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NJACA Newsletter
October 2014

Gangs: Research, Trends and Interventions

On April 22, 2014, the NJ Chapter of the American Correctional Association hosted a one-day forum entitled Gangs:  Research, Trends and Interventions.  Over 200 corrections professionals attended the forum, which featured a Plenary Session entitled Gangs:  Myths “Mostly,” Reality, Getting Real Work Done” presented by Dr. David Kennedy, Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 
Dr. Kennedy provided an evocative discussion regarding ongoing efforts at combating gang violence, popular myths and misconceptions regarding all facets of gang activities.  Dr. Kennedy indicated the term “group” was a more appropriate vernacular to use to describe the numerous loose criminal associations individuals have formed with one another vs. the over-used “gang” terminology which provides an incorrect connotation of an integrated criminal network or enterprise that is rarely the case.  Dr. Kennedy also provided an excellent overview of efforts to both research and combat security threat group activities throughout the country, with an emphasis on law and justice efforts to combat criminal group activities in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Following Dr. Kennedy’s presentation, three breakout sessions were held to further explore the issue of security threat group involvement:
Ed Torres of the NJ Gang Investigators Association and Dean Baratta of the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness provided separate overviews of security threat groups found in correctional settings and discussed security threat group identifiers, prevalence, and successful law enforcement responses to the security threat groups.
Rob Meador of the Phoenix/New Freedom Programs provided an overview of the New Freedom Programs, which challenge clients with pro-criminal attitudes to motivate them toward change.
The very successful event culminated with a luncheon and Annual NJACA Meeting that provided attendees with an opportunity to network and exchange ideas and best practices regarding offender supervision and programming.  Daniel Lombardo and Kevin McHugh were honored with awards for over 25 years of membership in NJACA. 

Submitted by: David Wolfsgruber, CPM, First Vice President

Bail Reform


On November 4th, New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to reform our state’s broken bail system by approving Ballot Question No. 1.  Passage of this ballot measure is supported by a broad coalition of statewide organizations.
A report released early last year found that nearly three-quarters of the people in New Jersey’s jails are awaiting trial rather than serving a sentence, 40 percent of whom are incarcerated simply because they cannot afford bail.  Relying on money bail as the primary mechanism for pretrial release promotes a system in which dangerous individuals with financial resources are able to easily secure their freedom, while others who pose no risk to public safety often languish behind bars for months and even years.  This costs taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
Passage of Question No. 1 is critically important because it will usher in comprehensive bail reforms that prioritize public safety, encourage fiscal responsibility and protect the rights of suspects, including guaranteed timelines for a speedy trial.  Question No. 1 will also amend the New Jersey Constitution to allow judges to deny bail to suspects deemed to be dangerous who pose a threat to public safety if released.  The legislation that will be implemented upon passage of Question No. 1 was sponsored by Senator Norcross and Assemblyman Burzichelli, passed both houses with bipartisan support early last month, and was signed by Governor Christie on August 11th.  The new law requires candidates to be identified for pretrial release using a risk assessment instrument and provides judges with a range of nonmonetary conditions to best ensure appearance in court and community safety.  It closely mirrors federal pretrial release policies that have been proven effective.
To learn more about the movement to reform New Jersey’s bail system and ways to get involved, please click here and remember to vote YES on Question No. 1 on Tuesday, November 4th.

Submitted by: Meagan Glaser, MPAP, Deputy State Director, New Jersey, Drug Policy Alliance

Copyright © 2014 New Jersey Chapter of the American Correctional Association, All rights reserved.

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