NJ Spotlight on Cities: The Toughest Transition, from Behind Bars to Back Home

NJ Spotlight | October 14, 2015 | More Issues
Former Gov. McGreevey, U.S. Attorney Fishman, and Trenton Mayor Palmer will discuss reentry and recidivism and how it affects New Jersey’s cities

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Two of New Jersey’s highest-profile public figures will take the stage at the NJ Spotlight on Cities conference on Friday talking about an issue that doesn’t always get a lot of attention: prisoner reentry and its impact on cities.

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman will sit on a panel discussing the topic of how to help those leaving jail, an issue that affects 10,000 people just at state prisons each year — with four in 10 likely to return.

The challenges are enormous: high rates of addiction, low levels of formal education, a dearth of job training, and neighborhoods already wanting for jobs. The existing support systems are an alphabet soup of programs, leading to at best an expensive patchwork of services.

McGreevey has been outspoken on the topic in recent years, as he has reemerged in the public light since he resigned his office in 2004. The former governor has been especially noted — and at times controversial — for a program he helped start in Jersey City.

Fishman is maybe best known these days for investigating the Bridgegate scandal involving Gov. Chris Christie, staff, and confidantes, but he too has been a supporter of reentry programs from his federal post. Included is a unique program offering one-on-one engagement with those leaving federal prison.

Also joining them will be former Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, who was an early voice on the issue. He will address the need for developing solutions and strategies for cities.

Moderating the panel will be Lilo Stainton, a frequent writer for NJ Spotlight and formerly press secretary to former Gov. Jon Corzine and a staff writer for Gannett newspapers.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for Friday’s NJ Spotlight on Cities, which will be held at New Jersey Performing Arts Center and will include a host of speakers.

Beyond just this panel, we’re excited about Friday’s NJ Spotlight on Cities, and we
are soliciting questions that you want answered from panelists and others about the state and fate of our cities. The conference is focusing on education, economic development, and quality of life, but we are open to all inquiries and hope to include them throughout the day and into the future.

Feel free to post questions or comments at the end of this article, or write to us at oncities@njspotlight.com.