NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed legislation (S2519) which requires public health emergency credits to be awarded to certain inmates and parolees during a public health emergency. The legislation includes certain exclusions and prohibits inmates or parolees to contact their victims upon their release.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our administration has worked tirelessly to save as many lives as possible and to stem the spread of COVID-19,” Murphy said. “Since March, the population in State correctional facilities has decreased by nearly 3,000 people (16%), including more than 1,200 people who were released under Executive Order 124. This dramatic reduction has allowed for critical social distancing as part of the fight against COVID-19.
“Thanks to the efforts of our correctional leadership, the COVID-19 positivity rate among our incarcerated population is at an impressive low of 0.09%. But the threat of COVID-19 is still present,” Murphy said. “Reducing our prison population will undoubtedly further our mission to combat COVID-19. This law further reduces the prison population to allow for even more social distancing.”
“The New Jersey Department of Corrections has taken numerous steps, grounded in public health guidance, to ensure staff safety and the safety of those in the state’s custody during this unprecedented pandemic,” New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks. Esq said. “These measures, including E.O. 124 providing for the release of certain offenders, combined with paroles and individuals completing their sentences, has decreased our population by more than 2,800. The Department will continue to lend support and take action in furtherance of public health and public safety.”
“The State Parole Board recognizes Governor Murphy and the New Jersey State Legislature for their commitment in creating a safe, healthy, and sustainable parolee release program,” New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri, Jr. said. “This law takes into consideration those serving their sentences in our state prisons as well as those within the communities that they will return to.”
Under the bill, public health emergency credits would be awarded to any adult inmate or juvenile who is within 365 days of their scheduled release. Credits would accrue at the rate of 122 days (four months) for each month, or portion of each month, served during the declared emergency with a maximum of 244 days (eight months) of remission to be awarded for any declared emergency period. Credits would not to be awarded to anyone who is serving a sentence for murder or aggravated sexual assault or who has been deemed a repetitive, compulsive sex offender.