THURSDAY: Legislature poised to free 20% of N.J. inmates

TRENTON, N.J. – A large amount of New Jersey inmates may soon be back on the streets owing to a bill that is rapidly advancing in the legislature.

A4235 will get a full vote on the Assembly floor Thursday; if passed and signed into law, “public health emergency credits” would be “awarded to any inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) who is serving a sentence or receiving jail credits applicable to the sentence.”

“The credits would provide further remission from both the maximum and minimum term of the inmate’s sentence at the rate of four months for each month, or portion of each month, served during the declared emergency with a maximum of eight months of remission to be awarded for any declared emergency period,” the legislative statement continues. “The award of public health emergency credits is not to limit or affect an inmate’s eligibility for parole consideration.”

There are exceptions: “Public health emergency credits are not to be awarded under the bill to an inmate who has been deemed a repetitive, compulsive sex offender. The bill also provides that juvenile offenders, other than those deemed to be repetitive, compulsive sex offenders, are eligible to receive public health emergency credits.”

The Murphy Administration sprung 338 inmates in April by executive order in the name of slowing the spread of COVID-19; another 700 inmates were released by order of the Supreme Court earlier in the spring.

It’s estimated that this bill could result in the early release of 3,000 inmates or approximately 20% of the state’s incarcerated population. It’s still awaiting a full vote of the State Senate.