Testa: Murphy’s Early Prisoner Releases Might Be Part of Plan to Permanently Reduce State’s Prison Capacity

March 16, 2022  Contact: Brad Schnure / (609) 847-3600

Senator Michael Testa warned that Governor Phil Murphy’s early release of thousands of inmates under the guise of the pandemic might be part of a larger plan to justify a permanent reduction of New Jersey’s prison capacity.

“I’ve spoken to corrections officers and union leaders who were convinced even before the pandemic that the Department’s failure to repair and upgrade infrastructure at Southern State and Bayside State prisons was a sign that the Murphy administration was looking to close portions of those facilities,” said Testa (R-1). “Governor Murphy’s early pandemic release of nearly 900 additional inmates this week certainly makes it look like he’s trying to empty our prisons.”

The New Jersey Department of Correction (DOC) released 852 inmates on Sunday under an early release program initiated by Governor Murphy during the pandemic that shortened sentences through “public health emergency credits.” The Democrat-controlled Legislature rubber-stamped the policy, which some now regret.

In total, the Murphy administration has provided early release to more than 6,200 inmates.

This latest release comes after 40% of the state prison population was released back into New Jersey communities under the administration’s early release policy in 2020 and 2021.

One of the inmates Murphy released early was charged with killing two people at a birthday party, while another was charged with killing someone within a half-mile of his prison just two days after being set free.

“We’ve already seen the proof that it was a tragic mistake for Governor Murphy to free masses of dangerous prisoners back into our communities,” added Testa. “It would be another mistake for the Murphy administration to permanently eliminate the cells and prisons we’ll need when Murphy’s misfits are incarcerated again, which is inevitable.”

Testa and his Republican colleagues have opposed Murphy’s dangerous prison policies since the start of the pandemic, saying they put corrections officers, communities, and families at risk.

“Safe streets” is a key component of the Senate Republican #GiveItBack initiative, which provides New Jerseyans an opportunity to tell Governor Murphy to give back everything he has taken from them over the past two years. Nearly 5,000 people have already told Governor Murphy to “Give It Back” at www.giveitback.us.