Jim McGreevey Leads Prisoner Re-Entry Program
Fmr. NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey, who is now Executive Director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, and John Koufos, Executive Director of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, discuss the process of transitioning former inmates back into society and reforming our criminal justice system.
"Steve Adubato here. We are at NJIT. It is my honor and pleasure to introduce two very special guests. First, the former Governor of the great state of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey. Also, he is the executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program. And his colleague, John Koufos, executive director of New Jersey Reentry Corporation and deputy reentry director Jersey City Employment and Training Program. Good to see you guys. Great to be with you Stephen. This is, beyond the fact that you have complicated titles, other than the Governorship, that we all get, let's put this in context Jim. We've talked offline a lot about this, and you've a leader in the state on prisoner reentry. Tell us exactly what the New Jersey Reentry Corporation is? Sure. And then put this guy's story into context. What we're about is in New Jersey we have 20,000 people that are in state prisons. We have people all throughout county jails. And tragically, in this country, we're 5% of the world's population, we're 25% of the world's incarcerated population, as a country. As a country, we lock up and imprison more fellow Americans than any country in the world. Russia second. And obviously, locking people up, from my mind, doesn't necessarily do much good. If you're going to treat a drug addict, if you're gonna treat an alcoholic, you wouldn't necessarily put them in the midst of someone who's violently criminal, and I think that's been the philosophy of Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey. And particularly, to give credit to Governor Christie, to understanding, at the end of the long day, it's better to treat somebody for disease, than merely incarcerate them. And so we worked cooperatively in Jersey City on employment, on housing, on addiction services, and through the largess and the commitment of the Governor, on a bipartisan basis of the legislature, we've expanded to Newark, expanded to Paterson, to Tom's River, and to Kearny. And John can tell his own story. So I spent the first, roughly, eight to ten years of my life as a criminal defense lawyer. Do trial case... trials, murder, and things of that nature. But a 20 year battle with alcohol was looming overhead. I grew up in a very difficult household. My father, a federal fugitive, mom, a teenage mom, and her own issues. And actually, at one point, I was dragged around the country as a child, it was 39 states between the ages of about eight and ten, while my father was a federal fugitive..."