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For immediate release: October 30, 2003
Tammy Kendig, 609-292-9580
Office of Communications
(609) 292-9580

New Jersey Judiciary Observes 20th Anniversary of ISP: Changing Lives Through Intensive Supervision

The New Jersey Judiciary's Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) recently observed its twentieth anniversary with an evening of presentations and a panel discussion. ISP gives certain carefully selected offenders, who were originally sentenced to state prison, the opportunity to become responsible and productive citizens while under close supervision.

The evening program was attended by judges, Probation Division staff, ISP graduates, and representatives from the New Jersey Department of Corrections. "You have helped people begin to realize the dignity and potential inherent in each human being," said Judge Richard J. Williams, administrative director of the courts, in his opening remarks.

ISP was designed to test whether an intermediate form of punishment, one that would be less costly than prison, but more onerous and restrictive than traditional probation, would achieve the criminal justice objective of deterrence and rehabilitation. Currently the re-conviction rate of program graduates is 8 percent, compared to a 47 percent re-conviction rate for prisoners released directly from prison. In addition, the program has reduced prison overcrowding by providing an alternative to continued incarceration. At a cost of approximately $8,100 per offender, it has resulted in cost savings to New Jersey taxpayers of more than $110 million since its inception. The average cost for an incarcerated prisoner is $34,000 per year.

The program has been recognized both for its success and its cost effectiveness, having achieved an average 95 percent employment rate over its twenty years of operation. Participants have earned almost $140,000,000 during the past twenty years in gross wages, on which appropriate federal and state income taxes were paid. They also paid more than $15 million in court-ordered fees and restoration and performed more than 2.3 million hours of community service.

Development of a work ethic is a focal point of ISP. All participants must be employed full-time, unless physically disabled. Additional mandates include adherence to a nightly curfew, submission to frequent alcohol and drug testing, performance of 16 hours of community service each month, verified attendance at treatment meetings, and other restrictions.

"This is a program that saves lives. It is a program that was designed to ensure compliance with the law but it has become much more," said Judge Williams.

The anniversary observation included a presentation on the history of ISP. A panel discussion, led by Judge Frederic G. Weber, covered the remarkable expansion of the program from its inception as a way to reduce prison overcrowding to its current and future mission of helping offenders find ways to improve their lives and contribute to their communities. Judge Norman Telsey also participated in the panel. Both judges served on ISP panels after their retirement from Superior Court. Other panel members included screening board members and an ISP graduate.

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