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March 3, 2011

New Jersey report finds recidivists driving up prison costs

This lengthy local article, headlined "Repeat offenders in N.J. prison system are draining state budget, report finds," highlights that concerns about state spending and budgets in New Jersey is getting focused on corrections.  Here are excerpts:

New Jersey’s prison system is a revolving door for criminals that drains the state budget by jailing the same people over and over again, according to a high-level review being conducted for the Christie administration.

A draft copy of the report, obtained by The Star-Ledger, says the state’s patchwork system is in dire need of reform to reduce the number of ex-offenders returning to prison. And it says the best way to do that is to connect former inmates with jobs so they don’t return to crime.

The report’s conclusions are the result of a broad, months-long review involving several state departments and the Manhattan Institute, a conservative New York City-based think tank with a progressive reputation on prison issues.  "Exorbitant criminal justice spending persists, incarceration lingers at a high rate, and the same individuals cycle between the criminal justice system and New Jersey communities," the report says....  "(Employment) provides individuals with the funding to pay for necessities and, equally important, dignity and hope," it says.

The high rate of former inmates returning to prison is a problem that has dogged criminal justice and social service organizations around the country, and the report says New Jersey needs to restructure its approach.  Under its recommendations, the governor’s office would coordinate all of the state’s efforts, from job training to drug treatment to law enforcement.  The Parole Board, which already supervises about 60 percent of inmates leaving prison, would be the lead agency.

The report has not yet been presented to Gov. Chris Christie, two sources said. Spokesman Michael Drewniak declined comment.  If Christie endorses the recommendations, it would be the former federal prosecutor’s first major foray into criminal justice policy since taking office.  Prison reform efforts nationwide have garnered support across the political spectrum, from conservatives seeking to cut the cost of incarceration to liberals hoping for social change....

The review has involved a cross-section of state officials and even a former governor: James E. McGreevey, who volunteers with inmates and remains active on prison issues. "Everyone in our nation — conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, evangelical Christians, agnostics — understands our prison system doesn’t work," McGreevey said. Newark has been running its own program to reduce recidivism for the past two years.

The program’s director, Ingrid Johnson, said 829 out of 1,394 participants were placed in jobs, with a job retention rate of 71 percent.  Only 7 percent of all participants have been arrested again. Johnson said people with steady work are less likely to commit new crimes. "Employment provides hope and direction," she said.

Prison reform may hold some appeal for Christie, who has pledged to cut spending.  It costs an average of $48,000 a year to keep an inmate locked up in state prison. "The situation is unsustainable," the report says.

March 3, 2011 at 09:03 AM | Permalink


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"New Jersey report finds recidivists driving up prison costs."

Then recidivists should change their behavior.

This article encapsulates the whole problem with thinking that liberal platitudes are the answer to crime. I'll just use its second paragraph as an example:

"A draft copy of the report, obtained by The Star-Ledger, says the state’s patchwork system is in dire need of reform to reduce the number of ex-offenders returning to prison. And it says the best way to do that is to connect former inmates with jobs so they don’t return to crime."

Nope. The best way to help insure that ex-offenders don't do it again is for THE EX-OFFENDERS TO DECIDE that stealing from and/or yoking people is not the way they want to live anymore.

Once they make that decision, their behavior will change, and prison expenditures will drop like a hot rock. Until they make that decision, then, sure, we can let people out of prison, and thereby (tautologically) have fewer people in prison, but what we can't do is pretend that such a result produces less crime.

The central error is in believing the behavior of government, rather than the behavior of individuals, is the problem. One reason we are tempted to make this error is that it's easier for us to control the behavior of government (yup, we can chop the prison budget) than it is to control the hearts and consciences of people who commit crime.

We can solve the prison funding problem this afternoon by simply flinging open the prison gates. But we will not be solving the CRIME problem until those who commit crime decide to stop. Being "connected" to job opportunities ain't gonna get it done. WANTING to make your way in life by working rather than stealing will get it done.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 3, 2011 9:49:48 AM

well bill guess what. IF you hound them for life! brand them and blast their life history to the world it's kind of hard to them to DECIDE to do anything BUT steal!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 3, 2011 1:37:39 PM

Most offenders return to crime because it is the way of life they have chosen. An entry level job paying $8.00 an hour less taxes, support payments, and restitution is of no interest. Working an 8-5 job is for chumps-not players!

Individuals raised by teenage moms have not had the benefit of a stable, working, male role model in their lives. Even those who want to "go straight" often lack the discipline and ability to delay gratification to stick with gainful employment.

There are exceptions to the above but our ability to change behavior is being oversold by the apologist set.

Posted by: mjs | Mar 3, 2011 7:02:55 PM

mjs --

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 3, 2011 10:16:11 PM

Biggest obstacle to hiring ex-convicts? Fear of negligent hiring litigation when they blow up and beat up the customer who asked an annoying question.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 3, 2011 11:29:50 PM

LOL SC people who ask annoying or stupid questions need beat up! might knock those loose screws back in place.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 4, 2011 1:53:32 PM

I really have to agree with MJS.. it is the life they chose..

Posted by: Aknen Hoito | Mar 4, 2011 4:35:23 PM

so aknen NOBODY choose to be persocuted for life for something what might be 10 mins of stupdity 10-20-30-40 years ago. It is long past time to give citizens a RIGHT TO PRIVACY! in the good old days those records would eventualy be forgotten and lost as new files took their places and the old papers were moved over and over again into new storage locations...Now it's out there FOREVER.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 5, 2011 1:46:58 AM

The new fixed "system expansion, expensive prison in New Jersey Department of Corrections has 13 facilities and 21,000 inmates 6,000.

This is a $ 77 million administrative bureaucracy which presides over the lawn. The state prison system, reduce the cost of the administrative bureaucracy. Total budget of Prisons, Department of billions of dollars tops.

Posted by: union hill school | Jul 27, 2012 8:02:34 AM

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