Program Website: njstep.newark.rutgers.edu
Program Description:The New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) is an association of higher education institutions in New Jersey that works in partnership with the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections and New Jersey State Parole Board, to (a) provide higher education courses for all students under the custody of the State of New Jersey while they are incarcerated, and (b) assist in the transition to college life upon their release into the community.
- A statewide vision that every person in prison who qualifies for college will have the opportunity to earn college credits toward a degree while incarcerated and will obtain support for post-release continuation, with every prison connected to a community college and four-year college or university.
- In-prison courses to match what students will need to matriculate in college degree programs.
- Credits transferable throughout the prison system and consortium colleges in accordance with NJ Transfer and the Lampitt Law, which are agreements between all two-year community colleges that every course taken at one is transferable to any other in the state and two-year degrees are transferable in their entirety to four- year public colleges and universities.
- Higher education institutions as primary employers of students (e.g. work-study, student employees in contracted services.).
- Academic Counselors stationed at each correctional facility to provide guidance toward degree attainment.
- Campus-based reentry counselors to assist with the college enrollment process and other services.
- Course offerings leading to an Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Art’s degree. Combined courses with people currently incarcerated and civilian students.
- Student Advisory Boards comprised of NJ-STEP students at each facility.
- Mandatory training for all instructional personnel led by the Student Advisory Boards inside the facilities.
- Minimal disruptions of student academic participation through the use of academic holds.
- Tutoring by NJ-STEP volunteers, community partners, and inside students.
- Formerly incarcerated persons provide mentoring and lead pre-release workshops inside prison facilities and with incoming NJ-STEP students at college campuses.
- A pre-release meeting and transition planning with an NJ-STEP Admissions Officer in order to continue college degree work upon release.
- Post-release reentry services including financial literacy, workforce development, legal services, and individual/group counseling.
- Case Planning – automated risk/needs/strengths assessment updated before release as part of a parole plan.
- County-based reentry councils.
Headquarters: Essex County (Newark), Camden County (Camden), Middlesex County (New Brunswick)
Correctional Facilities Served: Albert C Wagner Youth Correctional Facility, Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility, Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, East Jersey State Prison, Northern State Prison
Population Served: Eligibility = high school diploma or equivalency and adequate in-prison time remaining to complete a full semester
Number of Students:
Graduates to Date:
College/University/Organization Partnerships: Cumberland Community College; Drew University; Essex County College; Mercer County Community College; Princeton University; Raritan Valley Community College; Rutgers University; Salem Community College; and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
Funding: NJ-Step has been pre-selected for the Pathways Project managed by the Vera Institute of Justice and funded by a conglomerate of funders including Ford, Gates, Kaiser, Soros, and the Sunshine Lady Foundation. Ford and SLF have committed $4 million over the next four years to support our work. WE are in the process of raising an additional $500,000 per year enable us to expand to full capacity.