How does New Jersey’s prison population rank relative to other states?
Recent reports have found that New Jersey’s prison population is decreasing at a greater rate than any other state besides Mississippi. This decline comes along with an even larger fall in the crime rate. Since the year 2000, New Jersey’s prison population has fallen 26 percent, and crime has fallen by 30 percent. Therefore, it is clear that lowering the prison population does not raise the crime rate. The significant decreases are linked to investments in alternative courts, like drug courts, and in mental health programs. At the present time, the majority of the incarcerated in New Jersey are violent offenders, instead of nonviolent offenders.
The stark decrease in both of these figures has drawn praise from around the country. Senator Cory Booker is pushing for a bill to reform mandatory minimum sentencing, and President Obama is making a visit to speak about the positive effects of these reforms. Governor Christie has spoken often about the plight of drug offenders in a system in need of change. Part of his platform in campaigning for the White House involves reforming our criminal justice system.
Taxpayers will see indirect benefits from this reduced crime rate, but also direct benefits, as a lower prison population means less taxpayer money spent on the prison system. Another direct benefit is to the prison infrastructure. Fewer inmates means a greater possibility of closing off unused sections of older prisons so that badly needed renovations can commence.
Some additional reforms that are now urged are:
• To decrease the use of solitary confinement
• To improve programs for prisoner reentry into society
• To change federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws
• To invest more in alternative programs (e.g. drug courts,and mental health programs
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it is essential to contact an experienced attorney promptly in order to have the best possible outcome of your case.