essex commissioners streamline process for incarcerated defendants to resolve court fees, fines, and warrants

(Newark, NJ) - On Wednesday evening, July 12, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to ensure incarcerated defendants are made aware of their options to resolve outstanding municipal court fines, warrants, and detainers while they are incarcerated. The measure is supported by New Jersey Together and its local chapter Essex Together, a coalition of religious and non-profit leaders dedicated to criminal justice, housing, education, and environmental reform.

“Reintegrating people back into their communities after incarceration is the cornerstone of a well-functioning criminal justice system. Without a smooth process, it is much more difficult for formerly incarcerated individuals to regain their livelihoods and contribute positively to society,” said Wayne L. Richardson, Board of Commissioners President. “With this action, defendants will be well informed of how to resolve these outstanding matters while still incarcerated, saving both them and our courts system time and money.”

In collaboration with New Jersey Together, the Essex County Sherriff’s Office, and the Essex County Correctional Facility, the Board of County Commissioners resolved that all defendants in the County are promptly made aware of and provided the Incarcerated Defendant Request for Relief Form. The completed form is to be submitted to the Municipal Court that has jurisdiction over their matters to request relief or in some way modify their case as it relates to resolving these fees, fines, or warrants.

“Fines, fees, and outstanding warrants pose significant economic and legal burdens for people who are re-entering communities after being incarcerated. Being able to address these barriers while incarcerated makes it much easier for people to rebuild their lives upon returning to the community,” said Jessica Brater, a leader at Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue, a member organization of New Jersey Together. “Addressing outstanding warrants also reduces the threat of reincarceration after being released. Fines, fees, and being required to appear in court also make it difficult for people to obtain and keep jobs after being incarcerated. By reducing court time and re-incarceration, people are able to return to their lives.”

Essex Together launched recently on May 27th at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, with over 250 people attending in-person and online, half of which signed up to work on various issues including criminal justice reform, education advocacy, green energy funding, and more.

A recording of the Essex County Board of County Commissioners meeting where this resolution was passed can be viewed here.

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For Additional Information - Contact:
Adam Tucker, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of County Commissioners
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)
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