New Jersey's prison system is a revolving door for criminals that drains the state budget by jailing the same people over and over again, says a review for Gov. Chris Christie reported by the Newark Star-Ledger. A draft copy of the report says the state's patchwork system is in dire need of reform to reduce the number of ex-offenders returning to prison. It says the best way to do that is to connect former inmates with jobs so they don't return to crime.
The report's conclusions are the result of a broad, months-long review involving several state departments and the Manhattan Institute, a conservative New York City-based think tank with a progressive reputation on prison issues. “Exorbitant criminal justice spending persists, incarceration lingers at a high rate, and the same individuals cycle between the criminal justice system and New Jersey communities,” the report says. Almost 60 percent of New Jersey's former inmates are arrested again within three years of their release. To prevent new crimes, the report says ex-offenders need to be closely supervised and pushed back into the workforce. It points to the success of a similar Newark program, also created with help from the Manhattan Institute, and says employment is an essential part of rehabilitation.