Sponsor, NJ Gov Debate Value of Inmate Early-Release Program


A controversy over New Jersey’s new early-release program was sparked by the revelation that a man was accused of murder just six weeks after being allowed out of prison months ahead of schedule, says the Newark Star-Ledger. It wasn't the first slaying attributed to an inmate who was released early. The program was signed into law by then-Gov. Jon Corzine and harshly criticized by Gov. Chris Christie. “This just shows what a disaster for public safety this early-release program is,” Christie said told the newspaper. “People are being killed because of it.”

“Legislation doesn't kill people,” said the program’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “No murder is acceptable, but so far it seems most people are using this program to try to positively turn their lives around.” From the beginning of the program on Jan. 3 through March 18, 239 inmates have been released early. Seven people were arrested in connection with new crimes, such as domestic violence and theft, since their release. Three others have ducked supervision. Coleman said the program should improve public safety because inmates would be released with parole supervision rather than finishing sentences with no strings atttached.

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