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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Criminal Charges and Convictions > Reentry > Entitlements

Rights of people returning home from jail


A 2021 law expanded the scope of benefits available to people returning home from prisons and jails in New Jersey. Benefits previously provided to those released from state prisons were extended to those released from county jails and facilities.

What happens when I am released?

If you are released from jail after being incarcerated for 90 days or longer, you are entitled to a number of important benefits at least 30 days prior to your release, including:

  • A copy of your criminal history record and information on expungement and voting rights;
  • Information about programs that will assist with employment, vocation, or educational rehabilitative programs;
  • A record of your participation in education, training and employment, medical, or treatment programs while incarcerated;
  • An accounting of your outstanding fines and fees, and child support payments;
  • Assistance in obtaining a Social Security card, and a birth certificate if you were born in New Jersey;
  • A two-week supply of prescription medications and, if applicable, an additional two-week prescription order with two additional refills; and
  • A medical discharge summary and instructions to obtain your full medical history record.

Assistance with Medicaid and other benefits applications

The warden, executive officer, or keeper of each county jail facility must offer resources for you to get help in completing applications for Medicaid, Social Services, SNAP, and WorkFirst New Jersey programs.

Your prison or jail ID card will be accepted for six months

A DOC or county facility ID card will be accepted by state, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofit organizations for six months from the date of release—a period further extended during a declared public health emergency or state of emergency. The Motor Vehicle Commission is also instructed to accept your county correctional facility ID, in addition to a DOC ID, as 2 points for a nondriver ID card.

Repeal of General Assistance drug conviction ban

The law also effectively repealed the drug conviction ban, which previously prevented those convicted of drug offenses from receiving benefits under the General Assistance WorkFirst New Jersey program. This means that if you had a drug conviction that prevented you from obtaining benefits, you may now be eligible for WorkFirst New Jersey’s employment and training services, substance abuse programs, and mental health services.

Establishment of county reentry coordinator program

The new law also called for the appointment of a reentry coordinator in each county, to evaluate the needs of and help coordinate treatment and services for every person held in a New Jersey county correctional facility. The county reentry coordinator must help develop peer counseling programs and keep records for measuring effectiveness of the new program. If you are returning home, you may use the address of a reentry organization as a mailing address in applications for Medicaid, SNAP, and WFNJ, if needed.