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I have personally served on Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman's work group on Re-Entry since its inception. This work group was made up of what I would describe as the best of the best legislators, community advocates, affected families members, ex- offenders, as well as a number of testimonials from some currently incarcerated.

Almost two years of work has gone into this potentially historic package of legislation!! Please show your support in every possible way. Please contact us with any questions you may have on the information below or any of the postings you have seen related to this effort. All annoucements and advisories are being sent by work group members and we stand ready to assist as much as possible to help you help NJ reform criminal justice policies. Polices that have seen little to no change for over 20 years!!

These Bills are practical, cost effective, long overdue for NJ criminal justice policies and already have gained significant momentum. We cannot get comfortable yet & MUST ACT NOW!!!

Please help.. Respectfully Cuqui Rivera & the Bonnie Watson Colemen "Counting the Costs" Work Group on Re Entry

To: The Governor of NJ, The NJ State Senate and The NJ State House

A sweeping bill package sponsored by six Assembly Democratic legislators, lead by Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, to improve rehabilitation in New Jersey prisons and to save taxpayer dollars by cutting recidivism and giving released inmates an improved chance of success was advanced Monday November 22, 2009 by an NJ Assembly panel. Make sure that needed criminal justice policy changes take place under this administration!

Show NJ Legislators the support for YOUR Public Safety and Prisoner Reentry Bills:

A4197 – Strengthening Women and Families Act

A4198 – Post-Release Employment Act

A4199 – Administration of Correctional Facilities Act

A4201 – Reduction of Recidivism Act

A4202 – Education and Rehabilitation Act

A4203 – Criminal Penalties Act

Here are a brief description of the bills introduced by Bonnie Watson Coleman that reflect the outpouring of experience, expertise, and evidence that you all have provided throughout the series of “Counting the Costs” hearings over the past year! These bills are well informed, carefully shaped, and a result of your collective voice. These bills belong to you:

1) Strengthening Women and Families Act: A4197

Lifts the felony drug ban on TANF, General Assistance and food stamps

Eliminates the prison phone surcharge

Establishes a commission to strengthen bonds between incarcerated parents and their children

Appoints an Assistant Commissioner for Incarcerated Women

Prohibits transferring female inmates to male institutions

Requires classification assignments to place inmates in facilities close as possible to family

Establishes the Division on Women as the semiannual depository for all female inmate complaints

2 )Post-Release Employment Act: A4198

Creates a restricted use driver’s license for the purpose of getting to work, education, training, & dr’s

Removes categorical employment bars for: limousine services, places that serve alcohol, airports, etc

Bans the criminal background question box on state, county, and municipal job applications

Prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of a criminal record

Requires employers to consider a returning citizen’s certificate of rehabilitation

3 ) Adminstration of Correctional Facilities Act: A4199

Increases the non-“taxable” amount accrued for inmate accounts

Establishes the Dept of the Public Advocate as the depository for all inmate complaints

Requires ACA-based correctional officer training as requested by officers

4) Reduction of Recidivism Act: A4201

Allows for a 90-day grace period for outstanding fines

Provides returning inmates with: photo ID; medical records; rap sheet; accounting of fines owed; etc

Eliminates the post-release Medicaid enrollment gap

Establishes a Prisoner Reentry Commission

Establishes a Blue Ribbon Panel for Review of Long-Term Prisoners’ Parole Eligibility

Mandates the use of “community corrections” for all those released from prison

5) Education and Rehabilitation Act: A4202

Reviews vocational programs in order to meet demand job skills and standards

Requires inmates to achieve 12th grade literacy with few exceptions

Requires DOC to make GED classes available to all inmates who request

Requires GED certificates to be issued by Dept. of Education (DOE)

Allows formerly incarcerated persons to visit any prison in the State for motivational purposes

Caps parole ‘hits’ at 3 years before being given another hearing

Allows inmates to enter agreements for ed, trng, etc that decreases parole terms

Provides credits for educational achievements

6) Criminal Penalties Act: A4203

Provides discretion to courts to reduce accumulated fines and penalties

Requires family impact statements on pre-sentencing reports

Includes restorative justice mediation as an alternative sentence

Expands access to expungement





Come out to make sure that needed criminal justice policy changes take place under this administration!

Show NJ Legislators the support for YOUR

Public Safety and Prisoner Reentry Bills:

(Call #609-396-8900 x22 or 856-952-5140 for more information)