|Educational Freedom: New Jersey’s Incarcerated Can Earn Time Off Sentences through New Education Incentive Initiative|
|By Liz Velez, New Jersey Department of Corrections|
The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) has introduced a new educational incentive initiative through which individuals now have the opportunity to earn time off their sentences for the successful completion of credit-bearing courses.
Select credit-bearing courses provide remission from time of sentence for achievements in education and workforce training and dovetails with the Department’s pre-release employment navigation efforts to build partnerships with employers as incarcerated individuals prepare to return to the workforce.
“Education is a powerful tool to reduce recidivism and support successful reentry,” said Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, Esq. “By incentivizing education, we are able to foster personal development and jobreadiness. We are confident that this new initiative will encourage more individuals to enroll in educational and workforce programming that can give them the skills needed for success after release.”
Eligible courses include high school equivalency, post-secondary degrees and vocational certifications, such as plumbing, drywall, small engine repair, heating and ventilation, electrical, carpentry, welding, culinary arts, weatherization, alternative energy and green technology, among others. Each class intends to develop an individual’s skill-set to help those nearing release smoothly transition into a modern employment market.
Courses range from 0.2 to 20 credits, depending on the duration of the course. For example, completing a course in green technology and small engine repair would earn one credit, while obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree would earn 20 credits. One credit amounts to one day of remission time, and there are no limits to how many credits an individual can earn.
In accordance with state law, remission credits apply to the maximum release date only and not the parole eligibility date.
Anyone who completes a course by or participates in the initiative after the effective date of January 21, 2020, is eligible, provided he or she is not within 210 days of the maximum release date.
In 2019, more than 3,800 individuals earned a vocational certificate or postsecondary degree while incarcerated, and more than 7,000 certificates of completion were awarded for Career Technical Education programs. During that time, 484 individuals received a high school equivalency diploma, and 600 individuals enrolled in post-secondary courses.
Liz Velez is the Director of Communications for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT