Public safety is enhanced through the development, coordination, administration and delivery of the Division of Programs and Community Services’ institutional and community-based initiatives and opportunities.
The mission of the Office of Community Programs is to prepare offenders to reenter society as productive citizens and to reduce the likelihood that they will relapse (return to drug and/or alcohol use) and/or recidivate (commit additional offenses). To that end, the office contracts with private not-for-profit agencies and provides for the effective administration of the contracts. The contracts provide the framework for the provision of community services to inmates and mandates oversight and monitoring for delivery of these services. The Office of Community Programs continually tracks the movement of Residential Community Release Program (RCRP) inmates through the continuum of care. The office also seeks to develop and maintain effective programs and services in collaboration with other departments, government subdivisions and stakeholders.
The NJDOC has embraced offender transition through community corrections. The Office of Community Programs currently contracts for 24 RCRPs that provide an extensive variety of assessment, counseling, treatment and employment services to facilitate the inmates’ gradual reintegration into the community. Ten programs are pre-release work release programs; nine are substance use disorder treatment programs that focus on sobriety and group dynamics; two are assessment and treatment centers that provide orientation to male and female inmates to the treatment process as well as comprehensive assessments of each resident; and three are special-needs programs. RCRPs that provide in-house mental health services for the special needs inmate preparing to return to the community were established through two separate contracts in 2006; one program is provided to females and one program to males. There are presently 2,720 RCRP beds under contract with the NJDOC.
NJDOC contracted Residential Community Release Programs consist of the following programs:
- Assessment and Treatment Centers – The centers provide eligible inmates with a comprehensive assessment of their needs and risks, an orientation to a treatment regimen and a referral to Work Release Programs, Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs or Mutual Agreement Programs.
- Special Needs Programs – The NJDOC currently contracts for three Special Needs Programs. The focus of these programs is the provision of specialized services for inmates with mental health issues, MICA (Mentally Ill/Chemically Addicted) issues and specialized health service needs. Two of these programs collaborate with a third party to provide on-site mental health services. Once treatment needs are met, participants may be eligible to take part in a work release component. Although all of the RCRPs work closely with the residents to assist them with discharge planning, discharge planning and the provision of concrete linkages to community services is an essential element of these programs.
- Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs – The focus of Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs is the provision of services that will provide the tools for inmates with substance use issues to reenter society as productive and sober members. These programs utilize the assessments provided by the Assessment and Treatment Centers, as well as the assessments performed during an inmates’ incarceration, to create a seamless continuum for inmates with substance use issues. Ongoing assessments are performed throughout the inmates’ stay to determine progress in treatment; when an inmate has completed the treatment portion of his or her RCRP stay, that inmate is generally eligible to seek employment.
- Work Release Programs – The focus of work release programs is to provide residents with a solid foundation for successful reentry into the workforce with the goal of not just obtaining viable employment, but retaining employment.
The Office of Community Programs also is responsible for the oversight of the NJDOC Liaison to the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP).
The ISP is a highly structured and rigorous form of community supervision that involves extensive client contact, surveillance, a restrictive curfew and urine monitoring. It is located in the judicial branch of government under the auspices of Probation Services in the Administrative Office of the Courts. A representative of the NJDOC serves as a member of the review panel, which screens, evaluates and recommends applicants to resentencing judges for acceptance to the program.
A cost-effective alternative to incarceration, the ISP permits carefully selected state-prison sentenced offenders to serve the remainder of their sentences in the community. Treatment and group meetings, monitored by ISP officers and/or professional therapists, are the cornerstone of the ISP and have set the program apart from other programs. The ISP mandates for all participants full-time employment, community service, maintenance of a budget and diary, payment of all court-ordered financial obligations, and payment toward child support and the cost of the program.
The Office of Community Programs and Outreach Services also includes the following entities:
Office of County Services– As required by state statutes, the Office of County Services conducts annual inspections of the 22 county correctional facilities and 376 municipal detention facilities located throughout the state. The office also reviews and approves documents for the construction, renovation or alteration of those facilities to ensure compliance with New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) requirements.
The Office of County Services is also responsible for:
- Reviewing the operation of all county work release programs.
- Providing training in “Cell Block Management and Suicide Awareness” to county police officer recruits and line staff, and county correctional facility staff, as requested.
- Reviewing and responding to inquiries from state inmates confined in county correctional facilities.
- Providing technical assistance to county correctional wardens/administrators and police chiefs concerning the revision, development or implementation of any policy, procedure or written protocol required by the NJAC.
Office of Chaplaincy Services– Chaplaincy Services are provided to the inmate population and offered to staff on request. Each NJDOC facility has chaplaincy representation. Normally, a facility is serviced by a chaplain representing a major faith group and supplemented by the use of volunteers.
Chaplaincy Network Program– The Chaplaincy Network Program has developed a program designed to assign inmates with trained faith-based mentors. The mentors serve as guides and role models while providing direction and/or assistance to the inmate along with his or her family to facilitate a successful return to society.
The NJDOC believes that prisoner reentry should be addressed on a continuum, and that participation in one program will not in itself reduce recidivism rates. Delivering services to individuals pre-incarceration, during incarceration and post-incarceration is a proven method of reducing recidivism. The NJDOC provides a mentoring service that allows the faith-based community to have a positive impact on inmates while they are incarcerated and continues that relationship post-release. The faith-based mentor program is offered to inmates within eight to 12 of their max or parole date. Families of the incarcerated are included in the program, and faith-based mentoring groups are encouraged to reach out to families prior to the release of inmates. The Chaplaincy Network Program has trained more than 250 volunteers as mentors, successfully matched more than 150 inmates with appropriate mentors and experienced an average success rate of 90 percent for the first three months of matches made.
The goal of the mentoring program is to provide a continuum of mentoring services via trained mentors in a professional, caring and effective manner. Another goal of the program is to provide inmates with screened, trained mentors who have agreed to remain faithfully involved with them, in one-on-one relationships, for at least two years. The mentors will assist them with gaining access to faith-based communities that will provide inmates with positive relationships that can help them learn, serve and work in their communities.
Volunteer Services – The major goal of Volunteer Services is to ensure proper recruitment, processing, training, evaluation and recognition of NJDOC volunteers. As such, professionals, student, and members of the community who desire to volunteer in the areas of chaplaincy, educational, social, medical and psychological, and recreational services are subject to an
extensive application process, which includes appropriate screening, a criminal history background check, and volunteer orientation and training. Click here for further information regarding volunteer opportunities with NJDOC.
Volunteer Services provides recommendations for accurate procedures and manuals with regard to the Volunteer Services Program. The unit provides documentation, tracking, and reports regarding the Volunteer Services Program and also works closely with institutional volunteer coordinators and the Special Investigations Division to ensure proper processing of volunteers.
Office of Victim Services – The mission of the Office of Victim Services is to serve as a liaison to crime victims, victim service providers and allied professionals on matters related to services and support for victims of crime, relative to the offenders in the NJDOC.
Responsibilities of Office of Victim Services include:
- Offering guidance to department administration and staff in matters related to victim/witness assistance, including programs, policy development and implementation; and providing recommendations to the NJDOC on the implementation of core victims’ rights, including notification, restitution, protection from intimidation, harassment or harm, victim input, information and referral services.
- Providing general information on status and location of inmates, serving as a referral agent to assist in obtaining community resources, and acting as a liaison between victims, families of victims, the NJDOC and the offender. Inquiries often include assistance with court-ordered restitution, community release impact statements, sentencing information, and notification methods and requirements.
- Providing services that increase chances for offenders to succeed in the community, such as the “Focus on the Victim Program.”
- Collaborating with NJDOC grants management for updated information regarding pending and completed goals/objectives, specific to Prison Rape Elimination Grant for semi-annual reporting purposes.
- Enhancing awareness and support for employees and their service to the public; educating staff on good coping mechanisms and sensitivity to the victimized; and helping staff better understand victims’ needs, to improve their skills for dealing with victims’ stress and trauma.
- Actively participating in state, county and other local victim-related meetings; and networking with national, state and local offices to ensure that victims are afforded rights and services under federal, state and local laws.
Critical Incident Stress Management – The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team was formed to provide assistance and support to NJDOC employees and their families during critical incidents. The program seeks to stabilize negative impact as a result of a tragic event.
The CISM team, which functions under the supervision of the Office of Community Programs and Outreach Services and consists of a standing committee, seeks to stabilize the negative impact on an individual or individuals as result of a tragic event. The outcomes associated with this initiative include an improvement in staff morale, job retention, safety and a reduction in costs associated with injuries and time-loss. Crisis intervention services include pre- and post-incident crisis education, family support services, on-scene support services and demobilizations for large-scale incidents, small group defusing and group interventions.
Issues related to the CISM team’s response include situations involving suicides, homicides, fatal auto accidents, domestic situations and injuries at work.
The primary mission of the Office of Drug Programs is to address the presenting addiction concerns of the offender population under the jurisdiction of the NJDOC.
Addiction Assessment and Treatment Referral–The Office of Drug Programs is charged with screening all NJDOC jurisdiction offenders for level and severity of addiction and to make appropriate treatment referrals based on the information obtained. The instrument currently used for this purpose is the research supported Addiction Severity Index (ASI). Trained assessment staff conduct the ASI screening interviews at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF), Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and institutional locations around the state. Treatment referrals are made based on the assessment findings and other criteria.
Therapeutic Community Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment Program–The NJDOC currently contracts for 1,376 Therapeutic Community beds in seven different programs, located in six different correctional facilities, one of which is a 60-bed program for females incarcerated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. The evidence based Therapeutic Community in-prison treatment model has been chosen by the department as its principal treatment modality to address offender substance use disorder. The Therapeutic Community represents the first phase in the continuum of care; in-prison treatment is followed by participation in community corrections. The program – nine to 12 months in duration, based on progress in treatment – is designed to address addiction from a holistic approach. The Therapeutic Community views substance abuse as a disorder of the whole person, one that necessitates global changes in lifestyle and self identity. The department adheres to research-supported model specifications to ensure fidelity and related positive outcomes.
Therapeutic Communities-Recovery Oriented Integrated System–The Recovery Oriented Integrated System (ROIS) is an offender continuum of care enhancement project that has been piloted under the NJDOC since late 2006. At that time it was recognized that although the NJDOC had a research based continuum of care design, the treatment hand off of the offender from one agency to the next was merely connected, not necessarily coordinated or integrated in approach. The ROIS system, based on years of field practice and research holds that recovery success comes from long term recovery track that deals with recovery issues not as a discrete treatment episode, but as a part of the reentry/reintegration process. The treatment system that is integrated in a recovery framework is what is required and is found in the ROIS model. The Project is under the guidance of internationally recognized offender treatment expertise: Dr. George De Leon, National Development Research Institutes.
Therapeutic Communities-Criminal Justice Drug and Alcohol Treatment Studies (CJ-DATS 2) –The NJDOC, through the Office of Drug Programs, is involved in a national collaborative drug treatment research project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) under the title Criminal Justice Drug and Alcohol Treatment Studies – 2 (CJ-DATS2). The department is in partnership with the internationally recognized Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies, University of Delaware (Center) under this initiative and is represented on the CJ-DATS 2 Steering Committee.
The primary focus of CJ-DATS2 is to develop a better understanding of the organizational and systems issues that can facilitate or undermine implementation of effective drug treatment and other services. The CJ-DATS2 research centers are particularly interested in how agencies, sites or programs adopt and implement evidence-based practices across different stages of criminal justice processing and how the implementation of evidence-based programs and practices can be improved to yield better client outcomes and increased utilization of services.
Mutual Agreement Program (MAP) –The NJDOC continues to utilize the placement of addicted offenders in licensed residential drug treatment facilities under the Mutual Agreement Program (MAP) via cooperative agreement with the Division of Addition Services, Department of Human Services. MAP facilities are state-licensed residential substance use disorder treatment programs. MAP beds represent an option for those most in need of treatment services that have been assessed and identified as in need of further intense substance use disorder treatment. The MAP treatment referral offender is unique in his or her addiction treatment needs profile.
Living in Balance–The Living in Balance approach is a research-based, psycho-educational program designed as a practical instructional system for conducting treatment sessions for persons who abuse or are addicted to alcohol and other drugs of abuse. The criteria to participate in the continuum of care preclude certain addicted offenders who have too little time to participate and/or are not eligible for halfway house attendance. The Living in Balance client sessions are facilitated by Office of Drug Programs addiction professionals who are trained to provide treatment services through the Living in Balance curriculum.
Substance Abuse Education and Awareness Program–The Substance Abuse Education and Awareness Program is offered by the Office of Drug Programs as a sub-component of the department’s Project Inside college education initiative. Emphasis is placed on the link between criminal behavior and eventual incarceration and the sale or use of illegal substances.
Responsible Parenting Program –The Responsible Parenting Program is an interdepartmental initiative that seeks to encourage family reunification and responsible parenting behavior and actions through specific interventions and assistance strategies. The two primary components are: 1) assistance to offenders with active child support orders in the preparation and submission of pro se modification applications and 2) the delivery of a parenting curriculum for program participants.
Engaging the Family in the Recovery Process – An Innovative Program for the Max-Out Offender – The Engaging the Family program, funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services, recruits the spouse/committed partner and children of offenders under its jurisdiction as allies in an effort to end the criminal and addictive lifestyle of their loved ones. Case managers facilitate relationship strengthening, parenting, financial literacy and substance abuse education workshops. The case managers also assist the offender in establishing specific links to social and drug treatment services in preparation for release and additionally act as a resource to the ex-offender and family post-release.In October 2010, the Office of Drug Programs was awarded an additional grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance to expand and enhance the Engaging the Family program.
The mission of the Office of Educational Services is to ensure that offender-students are provided with academic, vocational and life skills programming that meet their demonstrated needs within a framework that is congruent with the department’s overall mission and in concert with all appropriate statutes, codes and regulations. Staff members supervise, support and ensure delivery of educational services, including recreational activities and law library services.
Unlike a traditional school setting, the NJDOC follows an open-entry, open-exit policy; students enter or exit classes according to their educational needs and entrance to the facility. The state mandates that all institutional educational services for the school-age population are equivalent to high school graduation criteria and aligned to the core curriculum standards. Mandatory educational services from grades K through 12 are provided for offenders under age 21. Education programs are on a voluntary basis for the adult-age population. Although there are local variations relative to specific career technical education and special programs, all state facilities offer remedial, pre-secondary, secondary and special education programs as well as an array of career technical education programs with appropriate support services. Each of the department’s main facilities holds a graduation ceremony annually. The NJDOC regards correctional education as a critical element in its effort to assist offenders to develop constructive lives upon their return to society.
The Office of Educational Services is responsible for ensuring that all available funding is allocated, distributed and utilized. There are numerous major funding sources available to the office: Direct State Appropriations, State Facilities Education Act, Title I Neglected and Delinquent, IDEIA-B, Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act and Title II Workforce Investment Act.
Additionally, the Office of Educational Services develops and schedules community outreach programs such as:
- Juvenile Awareness Program – East Jersey State Prison’s Lifers Group developed the Juvenile Awareness Program for youth more than 20 years ago. Participants must already be involved with a law enforcement agency or the court system and be accompanied by a parent and/or probation officer, to the facility’s discussion groups.
- Project P.R.I.D.E. (Promoting Responsibility in Drug Education), which brings minimum custody offenders, escorted by correction officers, into middle and high schools or other agencies to talk about their personal experiences with drugs and alcohol. Young people have an opportunity to hear real-life stories and to consider the consequences of substance abuse. The program is designed to reduce the appeal of drugs and alcohol and to promote decision-making skills.
In an effort to reduce the risk of recidivism and increase the likelihood of an inmate’s successful reentry into society, the NJDOC created the Office of Transitional Services in 2004. The goal of the Office of Transitional Services is to implement a seamless continuum of care for offenders utilizing cost-efficient, well-proven behavior science practices system-wide to increase offenders’ abilities and their motivation to demonstrate responsible, crime-free behavior.
Through intensive evidence based programming, offenders are provided with the tools necessary to become productive members of the community. The Office of Transitional Services also has developed partnerships with federal, state and local agencies to create linkages to resources that provide support to offenders. Intense transition support and the pre-release phase of an offenders’ incarceration are critical to ensure his or her successful reentry into the community.
The Office of Transitional Services’ core programs include:
Thinking for a Change (T4C) –Implemented in June 2005, T4C is a cognitive behavioral program, endorsed by the National Institute of Corrections as a best practice approach for reducing recidivism. The goal of the program is to effect change in offender thinking so offenders can change their behavior. It assists offenders in breaking the cycle of incarceration by teaching them how to think before they react, how to build positive relationships and how to think about things in a positive way. In 2010, nearly 75 percent of the T4C participants completed the program.
Successful Transition and Reentry Series (STARS) –Introduced in December 2006, STARS is a release preparatory program designed to address each major reentry barrier faced by the returning offender. Topics include employment, housing, transportation, education, family reunification and finances. The STARS curriculum also includes an inmate workbook titled “Living on the Outside.” STARS assists offenders in breaking the cycle of incarceration, addresses possible barriers associated with the reentry process, teaches offenders how to build positive family relationships, prepares offenders to join the workforce, and helps to develop effective problem-solving, communications and life skills. It also provides offenders with vital resource information for services in the community. The program had 1,719 participants enrolled in 2010, approximately 75 percent of whom completed the program.
Cage Your Rage (CYR) – The Cage Your Rage anger management program was introduced to offender population in January 2007. In November 2009, Cage Your Rage for Women was introduced. Cage Your Rage is endorsed by the American Corrections Association as a best practice program designed to help offenders recognize their angry feelings, learn their cause, and deal with them in a responsible way. Participants learn the connection between thoughts and anger and, more importantly, techniques to help them manage their anger. In 2010, more than 79 percent of the 1,264 men and more than 61 percent of the 141 woman enrolled in CYR completed the program.
Successful Employment through Lawful Living and Conflict Management (SEALL) – Implemented in September 2008 SEALL is a continuation of the STARS program with a specific focus on maintaining employment and addressing on-the-job conflict. The program prepares offenders to address possible barriers to employment, how to build positive working relationships and how to develop effective problem solving and communication skills. Nearly 77 percent of the 1,350 SEALL participants in 2010 completed the program.
Helping Offenders Parent Effectively (HOPE) – HOPE was introduced to the offender population in October 2007. In September 2009, HOPE for Women was introduced. It is the goal of the programs to help participants become responsible parents, even while incarcerated, which will lead to a reduction in the rate of recidivism and ultimately result in offenders learning to positively influence their own children to live law-abiding lives. HOPE is designed to enable offenders to recognize the importance of accepting responsibility for their children and increasing their ability to be self sufficient by beginning to take control of their lives life. In 2010, approximately 79 percent of the 955 men and 82 percent of the 45 women enrolled in HOPE completed the program.
Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) – Implemented in July 2006, EPIC is a gender-specific program designed especially for women. The goal of the program is to empower female offenders to raise their children to become responsible adults by teaching parenting skills that will enable participants to become better mothers upon their release. Sixty-six percent of the 50 EPIC participants in 2010 completed the program.