High rates of COVID-19 in prisons prompted the state to let thousands out of custody
New Jersey released thousands of people from prisons Wednesday to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in corrections facilities, but questions remained about the state’s ability to support the public health needs of this vulnerable population.
The state Department of Corrections planned to release nearly 2,300 inmates — including nearly a dozen who have tested positive for COVID-19 — over the course of the day under a law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in October. Close to 1,200 more prisoners will be returned to the community in coming weeks, DOC said.
The historic program — the only one of its kind nationwide — is open to nonviolent offenders near the end of their sentences and provided individuals who had served prison terms during the pandemic with “credit” toward an early release date.