Re-entry into society should not begin upon release from prison. Successful re-entry into society must begin the day a person begins their prison term.
Earn Your Way Out, introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, requires the Department of Corrections, in consultation with the inmate, to develop a re-entry plan. The inmate will be awarded one day off his/her sentence for each day’s participation in the re-entry plan, one that includes educational and vocational training, individual and group therapy, journaling, and community service. Absent any serious violations of prison rules, the inmate will be released from prison upon his/her parole eligibility date.
The Earn Your Way Out legislation sponsored by Senator Lesniak was vetoed by Governor Christie.
These effects are magnified for two particularly vulnerable populations: juveniles, whose brains are still developing, and people with mental health issues, who are estimated to make up one-third of all prisoners in isolation. If a person isn’t mentally ill when entering an isolation unit, by the time they are released, their mental health has been severely compromised. Many prisoners are released directly to the streets after spending years in isolation. Because of this, long-term solitary confinement goes beyond a problem of prison conditions, to pose a formidable public safety and community health problem. Legislation sponsored by Senator Lesniak to end the abuse of solitary confinement was vetoed by Governor Christie.