NJ’s parole system is working to reduce overdoses and recidivism. Here’s how | Opinion

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northjersey.com on 8/11/2022 by Samuel J. Plumeri Jr.

In 2021, reportedly more than 3,000 people died from confirmed drug overdoses in New Jersey. This is a staggering statistic that seemingly worsens each year, and it represents important stories about mothers, fathers, children, siblings, families, friends and colleagues who have succumbed to or have experienced drug overdoses.

There are also the stories about offenders with a substance use disorder who are sent to prison. They serve their time, and in many cases, are released on parole supervision. Reentering one’s community and familiarizing oneself to parole conditions can be challenging. Compounding this, for many, is a daily struggle to stay in recovery from substance use disorder, during a time when one is arguably at high risk of relapse.

After seeing far too many situations where parolees with substance use disorder violate their parole conditions, are returned to prison or are sent to treatment for drug overdoses, the New Jersey State Parole Board reaffirmed its commitment to assist these individuals in their recovery.

In December 2021, the state parole board was awarded federal grant funding from the United States Department of Justice in the amount of $3.2 million for peer-recovery-based services. We have entered a partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and together, we will closely collaborate to help offenders with substance use disorder.