How New Jersey’s Earn Your Way Out Act works

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Criminal Defense

A law that took effect early last year in New Jersey seeks to help reduce the number of inmates housed within the state. It also hopes to help reduce recidivism or the chances of an inmate returning to the criminal justice system. The law also seeks to help those who are leaving jail or prison develop the skills they need to abstain from criminal behavior and avoid reentering the prison system.

Per NJ Spotlight News, the passage of the state’s Earn Your Way Out Act signifies a major shift in how the state helps prepare inmates for life outside of jail or prison walls.

What the act does

The passage of New Jersey’s Earn Your Way Out Act means that corrections officials now have to provide or direct their inmates to counseling services, educational classes and related programs that give them a leg up once they leave confinement. In the past, an inmate’s shot at post-prison success depended largely on his or her own motivations to take classes and better himself or herself. Under the new law, the New Jersey Department of Corrections must consider the “criminogenic needs” of each prisoner and then determine appropriate programs and services that should help address those needs.

How it might benefit inmates

Inmates who are behind bars for nonviolent offenses and follow all the guidelines stipulated by the Earn Your Way Out Act may be able to reduce their time on parole. Parolees have the option of earning compliance credits for adhering to all program terms. If they secure enough credits and have no infractions, they may be able to cut off up to five days per month of their remaining parole term.

How effective the program may be is not yet clear. It may take several years to determine its effectiveness.