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Cardinal Tobin and other faith leaders promote emergency survival kits for men, women returning from prison

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., and other faith leaders from throughout New Jersey gathered at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark Thursday to help New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC) launch a collection drive for pandemic emergency survival kits for the formerly incarcerated.

NJRC provides critically needed services to court involved individuals, including persons having served the maximum sentence in state prison, state prison parolees, county jail probationers, Drug Court participants and persons leaving federal prisons.

The kits will provide basic necessities like undergarments, feminine hygiene products, and toiletries to persons who were formerly incarcerated and in need of assistance.

“It’s all the things that so many of us take for granted every morning which simply our guys and gals don’t have,” said Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, the chairman of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. “This makes a real difference in people’s lives to have a clean pair of socks, underwear and basic toiletries.”

The first 30 days of reentry from incarceration is so critical when it comes to food, housing, and medical needs, he said.

“It’s very difficult to return home during the Covid pandemic because most persons don’t have an iPhone so they can’t contact county offices virtually,” McGreevey added. “We are most grateful to Cardinal Tobin and the Archdiocese and to the faithful for their support of persons hoping for second chance.”

NJRC is requesting individuals, houses of worship, and the non-profit community to donate the specific goods listed on their website at, njreentry.org/help. Drop off locations are also listed there. The kits will be distributed at NJRC facilities and partner organizations throughout the state.

Cardinal Tobin said he is happy to support a project that deals with the dignity of human beings in a very delicate stage of transition.

“I think the church and faith communities have three important functions with those who are in correctional facilities,” the Cardinal said during the event. “First, we care for them when they are on the inside. We ask questions and we advocate for them. Second – and this is why I thank the team of New Jersey Reentry – we accompany them in that very difficult and crucial moment of reentry. And thirdly we begin to ask questions: why? Why would so many people, a certain type, end up incarcerated? Why would the United States, of all the industrialized nations of the world, incarcerate such a significant number of its population?”

NJRC’s services include linking clients to addiction treatment (detoxification, residential treatment, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and providing Medication Assisted Treatment), structured sober housing, job training and employment, driver licenses restoration and legal services, and healthcare (medical, mental health, and behavioral).

Clients receive individualized clinical assessment and treatment plans that address essential health needs to become “work ready.” NJRC's pro bono legal services program screens and provides clients assistance with state identification and driver’s license restoration. NJRC then assists in securing employment for their clients with private and public employers who are “background-friendly.”

The New Jersey Reentry Corporation has 9,846 clients statewide with a rearrest rate of 19.7 percent and reincarceration rate of less than 10 percent, and an employment rate of 56.4-60.2 percent (adjusted seasonally). NJRC operates a statewide network of nine reentry sites in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, and Union Counties.