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.
Responding to the New York Times series on on the lax conditions at New Jersey’s halfway houses, Governor Chris Christie has ordered Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan to step up inspections of the facilities and report violations and recommendations for changes to the Governor’s office.
“While many of the disturbing accounts reported in today’s New York Times documenting lax oversight and accountability in some of New Jersey’s halfway houses took place prior to this administration, we have an obligation to ensure the community placements program is effectively and safely operating today. This administration takes its responsibility to properly administer this program very seriously which is why we have increased monitoring of halfway houses with enhanced site visits, fines for noncompliance and a new inspection monitoring system that has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of walkaways under this administration.
“New Jersey has been on the cutting edge of pursuing policies that both ensure our most violent offenders stay off the streets, such as closing the early release loophole, and support a more rehabilitative approach focused on nonviolent offenders. We need to constantly ensure these policies are being responsibly and safely implemented which is why I am calling on the Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan to immediately step up inspections of all halfway houses and report any violations and recommendations for changes to the deputy chief of staff for policy.”
Parts one and two of the NYTimes series can be found here and here.