Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Friday that will allow some inmates to be released to home confinement.
Murphy said releases will be limited to those of older age and greater risk — as well as those recently up for parole or scheduled to be released in the coming months.
Murphy, speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, said those convicted of a violent crime will not be eligible for release.
“We are setting up a robust process through which each potentially eligible individual must be determined to be safe to place on home confinement, and each will be required to have an individualized release plan to ensure they will have access to all necessary services, medical services and housing,” he said.
“No one who cannot meet these standards will be released. Individuals on home confinement will still be subject to Department of Corrections supervision.”
Murphy said the move is to protect both inmates as well as the workers in correctional facilities.
“We have twin responsibilities — protecting those who work in our prisons, and those who are incarcerated,” he said. “Social distancing is extremely hard to accomplish in a prison setting, and allowing some of our most vulnerable individuals who do not pose a public safety threat to temporarily leave prison will protect both their heath, and the health and safety of the men and women working in our correctional facilities.”
Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks said inmates over 60 and those with high-risk medical conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 are among those eligible.
Hicks said the process of determining who is eligible will begin immediately, but he said he did not immediately know the number of inmates who would qualify.
Murphy said the order follows orders made in other states, including California and Illinois.
Murphy announced there were 3,627 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the state total to 54,588. Murphy also announced there were 233 more fatalities, bringing that total to 1,932.
Murphy released additional hospital statistics.
As of this morning, there were 7,570 residents hospitalized. Of them, 1,679 Jerseyans are in critical care — with 1,663 of those on ventilators.
Another stat worth noting: For the 24-hour period ending 10 p.m. Thursday night, Murphy said 682 residents were discharged.
Murphy said UniqloUSA has made a donation of 100,000 medical-grade masks.
“This is the essence of what it means to be a good corporate citizen, and we are incredibly appreciative,” Murphy said.
Murphy also thanked Stevens Institute of Technology for making its Jonas Hall dorm available for people working at Hoboken University Medical Center and the Hoboken Fire Department to have a chance to rest and recharge.
To make a donation, contact covid19.nj.gov/forms/ppedonations.
Home for the holidays
Murphy again pleaded for residents to celebrate religious events while keeping with social distancing protocols.
“Easter weekend, I know, is one where we are used to gathering together in worship, for children’s Easter egg hunts and for family meals, but we can’t do that this year,” he said.
“We have to leave the gathering to FaceTime, or Zoom, or just simple phone calls and texts to our family and friends. Instead of heading to church, many of us will fire up our laptops for a livestreamed service.
“Staying apart this year is the surest way we’ll be able to gather again next Easter. So, please, take this to heart and take this seriously. We all must work together.”
Murphy: “We’re starting to see some glimmers of hope.”