LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Report outlines 100 recommendations to aid in former prisoners’ transition to civilian life

BY Joanna Gagis, Producer/Correspondent |

To prevent the formerly incarcerated from becoming repeat offenders, the Reentry Services Commission has released a report with best practices to help people make a successful transition from prison to civilian life. The 102-page report is filled with 100 action steps, including everything from health care to addiction treatment, housing, workforce training and the legal issues that many formerly incarcerated people face.

“When I came home, no driver’s licenses, no ID, no social security card, no birth certificate,” said Reamau McCord, a client of the NJ Reentry Corporation. “So through this program … I was able to go to Hudson County Community College, get my culinary arts degree, given a job.”

Among other topics, the report looks at the pervasiveness of health care issues for those behind bars, that often include addiction, mental and physical health problems — Hepatitis B and C being the most prevalent — and how other states have better screening systems in place.

Between child support, fees accumulated during their sentence and old warrants, prisoners are met with a slew of legal issues upon release. But, the Commission is working to change that.

“There’s absolutely no reason why someone who has served 20 years in jail and gets released still has municipal court warrants out there,” said Evelyn Padin of the NJ State Bar Association. “That’s absolutely unacceptable and there needs to be reform, there needs to be change.”

The report also endorses several pieces of legislation at both the state and federal level that would turn many of these recommendations into law.