Criminal Justice Reform in New Jersey


New Jersey’s prison population was rapidly increasing for years until it reached its New Jersey’s prison population was rapidly increasing for years until it reached its peak in 1999 of more than 30,000 prisoners.


New Jersey has implemented several measures to reduce the incarcerated population and promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders back into society:

  • Under former Governor Chris Christie (R)’s leadership, New Jersey passed legislation in 2014 that removes employment barriers that ex-offenders face.
  • In 2016, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill which imposes a mentorship program for veterans who become involved with the criminal justice system.
  • In 2017, legislation was passed to provide inmate access to drug treatment programs, allow for inmates to receive the proper medical care they need, protect inmates from employment discrimination, and loosen restrictions on expungement.
  • In January of 2020, lawmakers passed a new bill into law which will expedite the parole process and allow inmates to be accepted for parole sooner. The new law is said to be able to push up to 2,000 more inmates out of prisons each year.


Since 1999, New Jersey’s incarceration rates have dropped dramatically: its “prison population has been reduced by a staggering 26 percent since 2000, and crime has fallen by 30 percent." Not only have imprisonment and crime rates dropped, but the recidivism rate has dropped to 31%, compared to the national rate of 40%.

Since 1999, New Jersey’s incarceration and crime rates have dropped dramatically and the recidivism rate has dropped to 31%.

New Jersey’s efforts have not only culminated in facilitating the prison population decline, but they have also led to the closing of two correctional facilities: Mid-State in 2014 and Ancora in 2017. With the closing of Mid-State Correctional Facility, the first drug treatment program opened in its place. In addition, a similar substance abuse treatment program opened for women at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. These achievements, along with other legislative measures, demonstrate New Jersey’s commitment to improving the correctional system and ensuring its occupants have the opportunities to leave it as healthier, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

Identification of legislation should not be considered an endorsement of support of, or opposition to, such bills.