The Division of Programs and Community Services enhances public safety through the development, coordination, administration and delivery of institutional and community-based programs and services. The division provides institutional and community-based programs for offenders, including academic and vocational educational programs, library (lending and law) services, chaplaincy services, transitional and social services. Other specialized services include victim assistance and assistance with applying for the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP). Additionally, in an effort to provide the offender preparing for release with a gradual and supported transition from corrections to community, the division contracts with private and non-profit providers throughout the state to provide community-based residential treatment and work release programs. Lastly, the division also is responsible for the quality assurance inspections of county jails and municipal detention facilities.
Office of the Assistant Commissioner
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 the Office of Victim Services include:
- Offering guidance to departmental administration and staff in matters related to victim/witness assistance, including programs, policy development and implementation, and providing recommendations specific to the implementation of core victims’ rights, including notification, restitution, protection from intimidation, harassment or harm, victim input, information and referral services.
- Providing assistance to victims of crime regarding status and location of inmates, serving as a referral agent to assist with 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 programming that serves to educate the offenders on the impact of the crime they have committed on victims, the community and their own families. The Focus on the Victim Program is a 14-week victim impact program offered
to the offender population that places emphasis on restorative justice, empathy building, offender accountability and making amends.
- Enhancing education, awareness and support for NJDOC employees and the community at large through presentations on understanding victims’ needs, enhancing skills for dealing with stress and trauma experienced by victims, recognizing the importance of sensitivity toward victims, and assisting victims
with coping skills that will aid in their process of healing and improving upon their lives.
- Actively participating in state, county and other local victim-related meetings and functions and networking with national, state and local victim service providers to ensure that victims are afforded rights and services under federal, state and local laws.
Office of Volunteer Services – NJDOC volunteers support the overall mission of the department and are essential in the effective delivery of programming and supportive services for the offender population. The major goal of the Office of Volunteer Services is to ensure the proper recruitment, processing, training, evaluation and recognition of NJDOC volunteers. As such, the Office of Volunteer Services, through assistance from volunteer coordinators in each institution, recruits, trains and supports individuals throughout the community who seek to volunteer in the areas of religious services, educational and social services programming, medical/psychological services, administration, community programming and recreational services.
The Office of Volunteer Services further provides recommendations for accurate procedures and manuals with regard to the Volunteer Services Program throughout the department. All NJDOC volunteers are subject to an extensive application process, which includes appropriate screening, a criminal history background check and volunteer orientation and training. The Office of Volunteer Services works collaboratively with the institutional volunteer coordinators, the Special Investigations Division and ID Card Units in maintaining documentation, tracking and reporting systems regarding the Volunteer Services Program.
Office of Community Programs and Outreach Services
The Office of Community Programs and Outreach Services include the following entities:
Office of Community Programs – 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-based 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 with six RCRP vendors operating 14 programs that provide an extensive variety of assessment, counseling, treatment and employment services to facilitate the inmates’ gradual reintegration into the community. Five programs are pre-release work release programs; eight 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 one special needs program that provides in-house mental health services for the special needs inmate preparing to return to the community.
NJDOC-contracted Residential Community Release Programs consist of the following programs:
- Assessment and Treatment 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, Correctional Treatment Programs, Special Needs Programs or the Mutual Agreement Program.
- Special Needs Programs – The NJDOC currently contracts for one Special Needs Program. The focus of this program is the provision of specialized services for inmates with mental health issues, Mental Illness and Chemical Abuse/Addiction (MICA) issues and specialized health service needs. Once treatment needs are met, participants may be eligible to participate in a work release component. Although the RCRPs work closely with the residents to assist them with discharge planning, the provision of concrete linkages to community services are an essential element of these programs.
- Correctional Treatment Programs – The focus of Correctional Treatment Programs is the provision of services that will provide the tools for inmates with treatment 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 inmate’s incarceration to create a seamless continuum for inmates with substance-use issues. Ongoing assessments are performed throughout the inmate’s stay to determine progress in treatment; when an inmate has completed the treatment portion of their RCRP stay, he/she 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 also retaining employment.
Reentry opportunities and an opportunity to begin to pay down fines and child support payments.
Inmates who complete the treatment portion of the Residential Community Release Program or inmates assigned to a work release program have the opportunity to obtain
employment or participate in educational opportunities in the community, in preparation for reentry. Employed RCRP inmates are obligated to:
- Open and maintain a savings account;
- Pay 16.67 percent of net wages towards fines, fees, penalties and restitution;
- Pay a maintenance fee to the RCRP (30 percent of net wages);
- Pay child support and child support arrears; and
- Pay all state and federal taxes.
Intensive Supervision Program – The Office of Community Programs also is responsible for the oversight of the NJDOC liaison to the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP), 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. An NJDOC representative serves as a member of the review panel, which screens, evaluates and recommends applicants to resentencing judges for acceptance to the program.
Office of County Services – As required by state statutes, the Office of County Services conducts annual inspections of all county correctional facilities. In addition to county jail inspections, NJDOC is responsible for inspecting 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 requirements.
The Office of County Services is also responsible for:
- Reviewing the operation of all county work-release programs.
- Reviewing and responding to inquiries from state-sentenced 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 – Located at Central Office, the Office of Chaplaincy Services is responsible for the oversight and support of the Chaplaincy Services offices within each of the NJDOC correctional institutions. The office provides guidance and support to all institutional chaplains and administrators on religious matters and is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures that guide the delivery of religious services and appropriate religious accommodations for the offender population.
When religious issues are challenged by the offender population or institutions are seeking further guidance on religious matters, the Office of Chaplaincy Services assists in this
process through the input of its Religious Issues Committee. The Religious Issues Committee consists of a diverse team of departmental staff members who convene to review religious matters on a case-by-case basis and make recommendations to ensure that offenders’ religious rights and freedoms are upheld, while ensuring for the safety and security of the overall institution.
The Office of Chaplaincy Services ensures that the correctional institutions are providing appropriate and diverse faith-based services, programming and outreach for the offender population. Each of the institutional Chaplaincy Services offices is supported by chaplains and a network of religious service volunteers who are essential in ensuring that the offender population is afforded the opportunity to practice their respective faiths while incarcerated.
The Office of Chaplaincy Services also matches offenders with trained faith and community-based mentors throughout the community, in an effort to support the offender with a successful reentry process and reunification with their families. The mentors serve as role models and support systems while further providing guidance and assistance to the offender, along with his/her family, with linkages and access to community resources. Faith-based mentoring is offered to inmates within six to 12 months prior to their max or parole date in both the institutional and Residential Community Release Program (RCRP) settings.
Office of Educational Services
The mission of the Office of Educational Services is to provide student inmates with academic, vocational and life-skills programming. The NJDOC regards correctional education as a critical element in its effort to assist offenders to develop constructive lives
upon their return to society. Staff members supervise, support and ensure delivery of educational services, including law library services.
Unlike a traditional school setting, the NJDOC follows a policy through which students enter or exit classes according to their educational needs and entrance to the facility. The educational programs are consequently dynamic, individualized and aligned with the Common Core standards. Each of the department’s main facilities holds a graduation ceremony annually to celebrate student achievements.
The NJDOC operates three major programs:
- High School Diploma Program
All youth offenders under the age of 20, as well as those under age 21 with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), are provided traditional high school coursework, including mathematics, social studies, language arts, science and enrichment classes. Students earn credits from their home school districts
toward the fulfillment of their high school diplomas. Youth students are mandated to attend such coursework until they reach an ineligible age.
- Adult Basic Education and High School Equivalency Program
Adult students may enroll in education to attain their high school equivalency diploma, commonly known as the GED. Adult basic education programs are available at all correctional facilities with certified teachers and individualized work. Adult academic programs are voluntary; however the DOC is mandated to provide a course of education to any interested potential student within 10 years of his or her release. Between February 2012 and December 2013, more than 4,800 received service.
- Career and Technical Education Program
Nearly all facilities offer career and technical education programs that teach vocational skills, such as building trades, electrical trades and culinary arts training. Students earn industry-recognized certifications upon completion of these programs, which they can use toward securing gainful employment upon release.
- Post-Secondary Education
In addition to incarcerated men and women having access to post-secondary education through college correspondence courses, the NJDOC partners with a consortium of colleges and universities through the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons to provide a degree-bearing post-secondary degree to incarcerated men and women. The program operates solely through private funds from the Sunshine Lady Foundations, the Ford Foundation, Gates, Kaiser and Soros.
- Promoting Responsibility in Drug Education (PRIDE)
The Office of Educational Services is responsible for oversight of the community outreach program known as Project P.R.I.D.E., 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 responsible decision-making skills.
The Office of Educational Services is responsible for ensuring that all available funding is allocated, distributed and utilized. There are a number of major funding sources: Direct State Appropriations, State Facilities Education Act, Title I Neglected and Delinquent, IDEA-B, Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act and Title II Workforce Investment Act.
Office of Transitional Services
The goal of the Office of Transitional Services, through the correctional institutions’ Social Services departments, 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 has also developed partnerships with federal, state and local agencies to create linkages to resources that provide support to offenders. Intense transition support in the pre-release phase of an offenders’ incarceration is critical to ensure his or her successful
reentry into the community. The Office of Transitional Services’ Correction Offenders Reintegration Programs
(C.O.R.P.) programs include:
Thinking for a Change (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 affect 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.
Successful Transition and Reentry Series (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. 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.
Cage Your Rage for Men (CYR-M) and Cage Your Rage for Women (CYR-W) CYR is an anger management program. It 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.
Successful Employment through Lawful Living and Conflict Management (SEALL) SEALL is a job-retention 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.
Helping Offenders Parent Effectively for Men (HOPE) and Helping Offenders Parent Effectively for Women (HOPE-W) HOPE is a parenting program offered by NJDOC. The goal of the program is to help participants become responsible parents, even while incarcerated, with the ultimate goal of reducing the rate of recidivism by 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.
Family Reunification and Transition (FRAT) FRAT was introduced to the offender population in October 2011 as a new pilot program, recognizing that many offenders leave prison without developing a plan for rebuilding family relationships or without an understanding of their family’s expectations upon their return. FRAT is designed to assist offenders as they begin the process of reconnecting with their family members by addressing past and present behaviors and preparing for changes in the family that could affect the offender’s transition.
OTS Special Services
Fair Release and Reentry Act
There are many obstacles offenders may face when making the transition from a correctional facility to their community. The Fair Release and Reentry Act (FRARA) of 2009 is intended to provide those ex-offenders exiting with a comprehensive information packet to aid in their successful re-integration into society. On the day of release, every inmate leaving the custody of the New Jersey Department of Corrections will receive a FRARA Portfolio containing information that may be beneficial to their reentry. The FRARA portfolio includes a temporary release photo ID, final discharge paperwork, a copy of current criminal charges, remaining account balance, final trust account statement and a medical records summary.
Where applicable, released inmates also may be provided with a duplicate Social Security card, birth certificate, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Non-Driver Photo ID, JPAY debit card, notification of active warrants/detainers, NJ Transit bus tickets, any necessary medical referrals and a two-week supply of medication.
Information is also provided on the Right to Vote, Records Expungment process, Child Support/Custody, community-based resources and NJ State Parole Board Certificate of Rehabilitation application, as well as a host of other pertinent reentry related materials.