As reported by nj.com, Governor Chris Christie called for the elimination of an early release program for prison inmates, less than two weeks after an inmate released early allegedly killed a man in Jersey City. Authorities said the former inmate, Rondell Jones, shot and killed a Newark man during a dispute six weeks after release from state prison.
Because his administration cannot unilaterally halt the early releases, the Governor said he will push legislation to cancel it. He harshly criticized Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, who sponsored what Christie called a “rotten idea” to release inmates early. “It’s tragic that because of Assemblywoman Watson Coleman’s philosophy on crime, that we now have one person who has lost his life,” he said. “Given the statistics on how many people are going to be released, we can only hope that there won’t be anybody else who loses their lives.”
Christie said 222 people have been released so far. The early release program, which allows certain inmates to be released on parole six months before their sentence ends, is part of a bill signed by former Governor Jon Corzine mandating more job training and educational programs in prison.
Coleman said the actions of one individual do not mean early releases should be scuttled. “This is a tragedy that anybody killed anybody,” she said. “But does that one act negate the validity of a whole system of reform?” Coleman said Christie was simply trying to smear her with his criticism. “I don’t hold the governor personally responsible for people who have died at the hands of violence because we don’t have enough police in our communities,” she said. “The governor is simply trying to deflect and blame. He does that better than fix things.”