Women sentenced to prison for crimes against their abusers would be aided in making the transition back into the community through a program proposed by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. She sponsors a measure to establish the Supervised Community Reentry Program in the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC).

“Most female inmates have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse and for many of them their only crimes have been against those who harmed them,” says Weinberg. “After years of incarceration, they need the reentry help. As victims themselves, they deserve it.”

To be eligible for the reentry program before serving their full term, an inmate would have to get the approval by the DOC of an application that includes their prison record, a risk assessment and a psychological evaluation.

The applicant would then have to demonstrate to the State Parole Board that their crime was committed against their abuser and no one else.

“There are many women serving prison sentences who were victims before they committed crimes against their abusers,” says Weinberg. “The criminal justice system has often failed to account for the violence and abuse they suffered before they acted in defense or retaliation.”

In many cases abused have paid the price with long jail terms that took them away from their families and communities adds Weinberg. She feels making the transition back to society can be difficult, but it is more likely to succeed if they are guided with supervision and support.