I was invited to tour the Bergen County, NJ jail with Patrick Hughes, Director of Psychology, back in May of 2017. Julia Orlando, the Director of Housing, Health, and Human Services, had read my book and wanted all of us to meet for lunch.
One of the topics that came up was bail reform. Bail reform is good for the most part. Few want to be in jail although there are exceptions. Their families don’t want them to be there, either, and depend upon them for financial support. There was a problem, though, that Pat brought up. There was a plan to educate the prisoners while incarcerated, things like reading and speaking English – something that I’ve been advocating. But now that prisoners are being released in a matter of days as a result of reform, that plan had to be dropped. The result is that they are back in jail more often for the same things.
More recently, another negative aspect of bail reform arose. Pat says the issue is that bail reform has reduced the ability of the jail to enroll inmates in the drug rehabilitation center on site which is a 30 day period to produce a drug-free inmate upon release.
Clearly, what we should do in this situation is to keep the prisoners in jail until they have finished their programs. It is a hard choice, I know, but it may be the best one.
Do any of you have other suggestions?