New Jersey inmate Rasuel Gunn expected to get out of prison five months ahead of schedule on May 9, but Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that day cancelling the release program. After two inmates allowed out early were charged with homicide soon after their release, the governor led the charge to cancel the program, says the Newark Star-Ledger. Gunn and most other inmates are getting out eventually, and the challenge is making sure they don't go back. Half of all state inmates are in prison again within three years of their release, costing taxpayers an average of $48,000 each annually.
It's a politically charged topic, and some politicians have been fearful of being portrayed as soft on crime. The push to crack down has led to strict mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes” laws around the country. More recently, overstuffed prisons have spurred other policymakers to evaluate ways to keep people out. Christie is developing his own proposal in conjunction with the New York City-based think tank the Manhattan Institute. A draft report recommends a focus on putting ex-offenders back to work to keep them from returning to crime. The Star-Ledger discusses the Gunn case as an example of the issues at stake.