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

2021 Law Extends Reentry Benefits and Repeals Longstanding Drug Conviction Ban



A new law, effective immediately, expands 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 are extended to include 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 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

The new law recognizes that, during a public health crisis or state of emergency, access to safety-net supportive services is even more critical. Therefore, 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 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 repeals the drug conviction ban, which 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 calls for the appointment of a reentry coordinator in each county, to evaluate the needs of and help coordinate treatment and services for every inmate in a New Jersey county correctional facility. This position will also help develop peer counseling programs and keep records for measuring effectiveness of the new law. If you are returning home, you may now use the address of a reentry organization as a mailing address in applications for Medicaid, SNAP, and WFNJ, if needed.

For too long, individuals reentering their communities after serving their sentences have been without access to safety net assistance. We hope this new law helps more people as they transition from state and local facilities in New Jersey. ​​​