Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey said he’s not sure why Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget does not include money for the program he runs that helps former inmates get the services they need to become productive citizens.
McGreevey has asked the state for $5 million to maintain and expand the program.
“We’re in the business of healing broken people, building families, and developing community. Some would state that we can’t afford it. I would say it’s a need not a want,” he said during a hearing before the state Assembly Budget Committee. “We can’t afford not to do it.”
The state provided $4 million for the program last year under Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.
“Our expenses per person are $2,200. That’s in marked contrast to the cost of incarceration, upwards past $55,000 a year,” said McGreevey who, like Murphy, is a Democrat.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who said the program seems to be effective and cost efficient, said he expects lawmakers will allocate some funds to help keep it running.
“I would suspect it’ll be restored. Now will it be fully restored or restored to the number that’s been requested? That remains to be seen.
“But the need is very clear, and this is a good investment for us.” said Burzichelli, D-Gloucester. “It’s cheaper for us to help these people than to have them sit back in a prison somewhere.”
Lawmakers have until the end of June to revise and pass the budget. The governor could reject any changes they make.