What type of complaints does the Ombudsman handle?
Any person, over the age of 18 years, who is convicted under the laws of the State of New Jersey and sentenced to a correctional facility for more than 364 days is a “state-sentenced” inmate and considered to be among the individuals who may properly seek help from the Corrections Ombudsman.
The Corrections Ombudsman can investigate a variety of concerns, including conditions of confinement and any acts on the part of the prison administration that may violate an inmate’s rights.
Inmates or a third party on behalf of the inmate may report allegations of sexual abuse or harassment. Such allegations will be immediately referred to the New Jersey Department of Corrections for investigation, allowing the inmate to remain anonymous upon request.
Essentially, complaints investigated include those the Corrections Ombudsman believes might be:
- Contrary to law or regulation;
- Based on mistaken information that was used to make a decision or support an action;
- Actions for which the administration offers no adequate reason;
- Unreasonable, unfair or otherwise objectionable actions, even though in accordance with law.
The Corrections Ombudsman may decide not to investigate because:
- The complainant could reasonably be expected to use another remedy or channel;
- The complaint is not made in a timely manner, making it difficult or impossible to investigate;
- The complaint is about another person, not the person making the complaint.
Declining to investigate a complaint shall not bar the Corrections Ombudsman from investigating an administrative act whether or not included in the complaint.
Can the Ombudsman help me, a friend or family member who is incarcerated in a state prison?
The Office of the Corrections Ombudsman supplements, but does not replace, the existing correctional facility's remedy/grievance process.
Therefore, inmates should use all institutional resources and grievance procedures prior to contacting the Office of the Ombudsman. (Inmates that do not use the institutional remedy process first may be declined services until proper institutional procedures are followed).
Inmates should first try to achieve an informal resolution to the complaint, concern, question, problem and/or grievance by using issue specific departmental forms or having an informal interview with the correctional facility area custody supervisor or appropriate civilian employee.
If it proves unsuccessful they may file a Department of Corrections Inmate Remedy System form IRSF-101.
The Inmate Remedy System form IRSF-101 is a 3 section form, (the “Routine Inmate Request”, the “Interview Request” and the “Administrative Appeal”) that shall be used to provide routine information, refer the person for an in-person interview or as a remedy to address complaints and or grievances.
If these institutional remedies fail or the inmate is not satisfied with the correctional facility’s responses, they may then contact the Corrections Ombudsman for further review of the issue or concern.
Inmates can contact the office by completing an Inmate Request for Assistance Form that is available at the correctional facilities, writing directly to our central office or by calling our inmate toll free number. (Note: Inmates should not use the Department of Corrections Inmate Remedy System form IRSF-101when communicating with the office.)
Inmates requesting information or services from the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman should contact:
Office of the Corrections Ombudsman
PO Box 855
Trenton, NJ 08625
1-609-633-2596 (Main Office)
1-555-555-5555 (Inmate Only Toll Free Number)
Mail direct to or from the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman is Classified "Legal, Confidential and Official"
State sentenced inmates that temporarily may not have been assigned a PIN or experience problems calling our office may request a legal phone call through any of the correctional facilities’ Social Services Departments or Law Library Coordinators and by calling 1-609-633-2596 . (Calls to the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman are classified as official, legal and confidential.)
We do not accept collect calls from inmates housed in county or out-of-state facilities since we are unable to determine if they are pre-trial detainees, serving county jail terms (sentences of less than one year), or are state-sentenced (one year or more). Our current jurisdiction is to address issues and concerns of state sentenced inmates only. We also do not accept collect calls from family, friends, or other interested parties.