N.J. may end early release from prison

    An early release program for prisoners in New Jersey could be coming to an end.

    Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of a Senate bill would restore the state parole board’s authority to determine whether inmates should be released before the end of their court-ordered sentence.

    Two men have been charged with homicide after their release from prison six months early. Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman sponsored the legislation to create the program she said was intended only for nonviolent offenders.

    She’s hoping to meet with administration officials to discuss whether the program was implemented effectively.

    “Were there adequate resources? Was there an adequate oversight? Was there substantive supervision?” she said. “A reform initiative needs to be appropriately written as well as appropriately enforced and we need to examine whether or not that’s happening.”

    Coleman would like to see some form of the early release program continue, but critics are pushing for its end.

    Richard Pompelio, the executive director of the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, said Thursday the early release program puts the public at too much risk.

    “It’s taken the safeguard of the parole board out of the picture, and that’s a mistake,” Pompelio said. “They present the barriers to protect society so that someone doesn’t get out before they should get out.”

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