Provide independent prison oversight to protect the safety, health, and well-being of incarcerated people.
The Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson acts as an independent set of eyes and ears for the public, opening up the otherwise closed world of prisons. The Office works to identify and address problems at the individual and system levels to ensure that people housed in New Jersey’s prisons:
- Are safe,
- Have their medical and mental health needs addressed,
- Have reasonable access to their loved ones, and
- Are engaged in productive activities to prepare them to return to the community.
In the Dignity Act, signed into law in 2020, state lawmakers:
- Authorize the appointment of an Ombudsperson to work with state prisoners,
- Outline the Office’s duties,
- Give the Office discretion to investigate complaints,
- Direct the Office to inspect prison facilities and operations,
- Provide golden-key access to facilities, people, and records,
- Protect confidential communications and prohibit retaliation for working with the Office, and
- Create an advisory board to support and guide the Office.
Message from the Ombudsperson
I believe the goal post for corrections should always be for people to come out of prison better than they went in. And that prison oversight allows the public to hold the government to that ideal.
“Ombudsperson” means representative of the people. We work for you. We hope our office will be visible and accessible to the people held in our state prisons, that we can be neutral and reliable fact-finders for the public about conditions on the inside, and that the Department of Corrections will always see us as valuable collaborative problem-solvers.
We want a healthy well-functioning prison system that builds pride among staff about the impact they have on those in their custody, hope among incarcerated people about their futures, and confidence among the public that those coming home from prison are better prepared to be good neighbors.
We promise to listen compassionately to all sides, to be unbiased and curious, and when we don’t understand something, to look at it more closely. We promise to gather data and opinions, and to give those living and working in our prisons a seat at the table to solve the problems that surface through our monitoring. We will lead with facts, tell the truth as well as we understand it, give credit where credit is due, and also routinely turn our attention inward, evaluating our office’s impact and effectiveness.
Please reach out if you have tips, complaints, input, and ideas. We welcome your feedback and want to continue finding ways to better serve the public.
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New Jersey Corrections Ombudsperson
Understanding the New Jersey Department of Corrections Prison System. A resource guide for family members of the incarcerated 2020 Prepared by: New Jersey Department of Corrections
The Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson provides a fair and impartial medium within which state sentenced incarcerated persons housed in State Prison Facilities or Residential Community Release Programs can seek redress for concerns or problem that arise during incarceration.
Anyone requesting information or assistance from the Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson should: