Trenton – A new report from the PEW Center for the States evaluated national prison recidivism rates and found New Jersey to be among a small group of states making progress in reducing prison recidivism rates. Six states, (Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and Utah) reduced their rates of recidivism by more than 10 percent. New Jersey reduced its recidivism rate by 11.4 percent between 1999 and 2007. The report also found that New Jersey had reduced its crime rate at the same time it was reducing its incarceration rate.
Advocates called the news exciting and encouraging. "New Jersey has made real strides in the last decade on criminal justice reform," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of Drug Policy Alliance. "It’s great to see New Jersey get credit for policies that are helping individuals reintegrate successfully into their communities while at the same time increasing the safety of those communities."
In 2009, New Jersey’s Parole Board won a prestigious national award from the Council of State Governments for a program designed to reduce recidivism among individuals on parole. The program, the first of its kind in the country, created two Regional Assessment Centers where parolees with low level parole violations could receive increased supervision and support to keep them out of prison. The Parole Board estimated that the program saved taxpayers $2 million in 2009 and was expected to save more than $14 million in 2010. It costs New Jersey more than $46,000 a year to incarcerate an individual.
The report found that, nationally, recidivism rates remain stubbornly high, with four in 10 individuals who are released from prison becoming re-incarcerated within three years of their release. New Jersey’s recidivism rate, 42.7 percent, was below the national average of 43.3 percent.
James Plousis, Chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board, said, "I believe New Jersey is heading in the right direction. It is a priority of Governor Chris Christie and we believe that there is still more to do in reducing recidivism in the State of New Jersey."