With a prison population of over 20,300 inmates in the year 2022, the state of New Jersey has over 12 active state prisons to house these inmates. Comparing this number with other states in the US, this number is much less.
However, despite a low number of prisons and inmates, the prisons in New Jersey are often criticized for offering the worst services and facilities. The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) is responsible for looking after the prisons. The force has a strength of 24,000, making it a higher number of officers available per inmate.
Additionally, the annual budget of NJDOC is 1.076 billion, helping to overlook seven male correctional facilities, three youth facilities, one facility for rehabilitation of sex offenders, one for women’s correctional institution, and one central reception unit where prisoners undergo trial are kept.
What is the death penalty in the state of New Jersey?
The state of New Jersey is among those in the year 2007 states in the United States who repelled the death penalty. After the law was passed by then Governor Jon Corzine, the inmates on death row were given life imprisonment without parole.
Human rights activists globally regarded the law well regarded and was a major shift from New Jersey’s Criminal Justice & Law.
What are the prison facilities in the state of New Jersey?
The NJDOC ensures despite the prison being a minimum level, medium level, or maximum level; all inmates are given access to recreational and rehabilitation facilities so that upon their release, they become active members of society, contributing to their well-being.
In the state of New Jersey, over 1200 inmates are incarcerated per year, and over the same number of prisoners are released during the same time. Additionally, the average offender serving six years in prison is 47%, those serving five years are 17%, those serving nine years are 33%, and the remainder serves more than 10 years.
The state of New Jersey serves an average annual cost per inmate of around $47,000.
What makes a prison worse in the state of New Jersey?
New Jersey has one of the most reputed correctional facilities, unlike other states. However, they are still active to criticism, and oftentimes upon investigation, violations are found. The following are some of the issues that are found in the state prisons of New Jersey:
- Most New Jersey prisons are accused of violations are hygiene-related issues. According to an investigative report, former inmates have reported being made to sleep in confinement cells that are infested with rats and molds, making the living conditions even worse.
- Despite having a larger force and manpower to counter inmates, it appears this is not enough to control the prison gang wars. There is a continuity in the prison gangs and NJDOC has yet to bring effective measures to control them.
- Excessive use of force by the guards of NJDOC and their non-cooperation when crimes are reported. Inmates have accused guards of non-cooperation and denied them access to programs whenever they felt like doing it.
- A few prisons are located in contaminated and toxic sites, costing a toll on the health of inmates serving in those prisons.
7 worst prisons in the State of New Jersey:
The following are the worst prisons in the state of New Jersey:
1. New Jersey State Prison:
On top of our list is the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) worst prisons. The prison is the oldest in New Jersey and houses over 1,819 dangerous offenders who require a maximum security class facility.
The prison was opened in 1836 and was part of a Fort. Apart from New Jersey, the NJSP is considered to be one of the US’s most important and complete maximum-level security prisons since it can handle some of the most dangerous and difficult male offenders. Due to this, NJSP has housed some of America's most notorious offenders over the years.
Considering NJSP houses serious offenders, it is no wonder that the prison is the worst to be in. While the guards keep a close eye on what’s happening inside the prison, even then, cases do appear, including gang wars, sexual violence, and attacks on guards.
Additionally, the prison literally sits on a toxic and contaminated site, costing health issues to the offenders, especially those with a longer stay.
For all the right reasons, prison is not a place anyone would want to be.
2. East Jersey State Prison:
East Jersey State Prison (EJSP) is a medium security prison that was opened in 1901 and is the second oldest state prison in New Jersey. It houses a capacity of 1,227 inmates and is a mixed security class prison.
While the prison has been popular in the eyes of Hollywood, that does not equate to everything inside the prison being normal.
It's been several decades since the riots happened, and the fear is still alive in the eyes of both the guards and other inmates. Due to this, the NJDOC keeps a close eye all around the year on inmates, ensuring nothing goes wrong.
However, there are still gang wars and reports of sexual abuse by other inmates. Additionally, the solitary confinement of EJSP is among the worst as it offers a small cell room with no air, no sunlight, and no person to talk to. There are also accusations of hygiene issues, so much so that inmates are made to sleep in places where rats roam freely.
3. Southern State Correctional Facility:
The Southern State Correctional Facility (SSCF) is one of the biggest male prisons in the state of New Jersey. The prison is located at Delmont, Maurice River Township, New Jersey, and has a capacity of over 2000 inmates. The facility was opened in 1983 and has been accustomed to gang violence.
One of the major reasons why gang violence is so common in SSCF is that prisoners live in a dormitory instead of individual cells. This makes the job of guards extremely difficult to manage and at times, they feel underwhelmed. In 2019, due to several gangs, there was an attempt to take over the prison by suppressing them through the use of force.
While the gangs failed to achieve their goals, several guards were injured during the takeover and additional force was called to restore law and order.
4. Bayside State Prison:
Bayside State Prison (BSP) is a state prison that is located in Leesburg, Maurice River Township, New Jersey. It has a capacity of 2206 male inmates and was opened in 1970.
The prison, over the years, has become famous for gang violence and racial violence. This is because the racial difference at Bayside is among the highest, with the majority of inmates being Black, whereas White, Asian and Hispanic fall in the minority. Apart from gang violence, there is also rampant sexual violence.
5. Garden State Youth Correctional Facility:
Opened for young adult offenders who are of ages between 18 to 30, the prison was opened in 1968. The prison can house over 1500 inmates and is famous for educating them in supportive roles such as maintenance, janitorial, and landscaping.
While the facility is lauded for its efforts in helping young adults on finding a purpose in life, however, one major criticism the facility faces is where it is located. Similar to New Jersey State Prison, it also sits on a contaminated and toxic site, and due to this, several former inmates complain of health issues.
6. Northern State Prison: worst prison in the New Jersey
Located at 168 Frontage Road, Newark, New Jersey, the prison is a minimum to maximum security class with a capacity of 2615.
The prison is often criticized for overcrowding and gang violence. However, over the years, the authorities have worked to reduce that by employing the Security Threat Group Management Unit, which is tasked to give gang members rehabilitation courses, thus reducing violence in the unit.
7. South Woods State Prison:
Located in Bridgeton, Cumberland Country, the South Woods State Prison was opened in 1997 and has a capacity of 3,317 inmates. Since the majority of the inmates are in prison due to violent and suppressive crimes, this has a huge toll on the discipline and health of the prison.
Gang wars based on ethnicity are extremely common so former inmates say if you are not in a particular group, your survival is difficult, and you will get bullied very often.