A Sign of Progress in Halfway House Reform

Following legislative halfway house hearings four months ago, Assemblyman Chales Mainor (D-31) Chair, Law & Public Safety Committee, has introduced five new bills. They could have a substantial impact on halfway house operators (particularly the largest, Community Education Centers), inmate security and services, and public safety. Mainor is joined by primary sponsors Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), Gilbert Wilson (D-5), Daniel Benson (D-14), Nelson Albano (D-1) and Joseph Cryan (D-20). The text of the bills has not yet been posted, but the brief description of each and my comments in brackets, suggest that key issues are being addressed:

  •  A3502 – Requires DOC to conduct quarterly site visits at residential community release programs. [In the past there have been insufficient monitoring site visits.]

  •  A3503 – Establishes “Task Force To Review Residential Community Release Programs” to review this State’s halfway houses and make recommendations concerning security and inmate services. [A lack of security and inmate services have been a significant problem.]

  •  A3504 – Prohibits pre-trial county inmates charged with first, second, or third degree crimes from being placed in halfway houses. [Placing such inmates in halfway houses, never designed for such prisoners, has been a major cause of violence, escapes, and drugs.]

  •  A3505 – Requires the Division of Purchase and Property to award contracts to halfway houses; sets forth certain contract requirements. [Removes contracting from Department of Corrections, which has mismanaged the awarding and overseeing of operators, and creates needed new standards.]

  •  A3506 – Requires residential community release programs to file certain financial disclosure documents with DOC. [There has been a lack of halfway house financial transparency and incidents of overbilling.]

    These bills and others still need to wend their way through the legislature and may face opposition from Governor Christie who has blocked previous reform efforts. They are a good start.  

  • Comment (1)

    1. firstamend07

      These Bills directly ” call out” the NJDOC Commissioner and his Administration as being inept and incompetent.

      That is a very serious charge since the NJDOC is a Billion Dollar business.

      The Governor almost has to either come out against these Bills,as a ” vote of confidence” for his Commissioner,or recognize that his Commissioner and the NJDOC Administration has been unable to do its job.

      The Legislature is clearly stating that the NJDOC Commissioner is not capable of doing an important function of his job.Does Christie agree?  


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