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The New Jersey State Prison System

The Department of Corrections (DOC) oversees the prison system in the state of New Jersey. With state courts and law enforcement agencies, the DOC promotes public safety by supervising incarcerated persons and providing supportive programs and services to the inmate population. The DOC also oversees the management of incarceration facilities across the state. There are about 14 main facilities in the state, out of which 12 are men’s correctional facilities, and one (1) is a female correctional facility. The DOC also oversees the state’s intake unit and central reception. The New Jersey Prison system, which comprises community treatment centers, DOC facilities, and county jails, house about 27,000 inmates at different security levels.

The DOC aims to ensure that all inmates remain incarcerated at the security level necessary to maintain public safety and that inmates receive the treatment, training, care, and discipline needed for re-entry into society.

What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison in New Jersey?

Although sometimes used interchangeably, jails and prisons are different in form and function. Jails are built for short stays and serve small populations. Jails are holding facilities for persons who are awaiting hearings or sentencing or persons punished with prison terms of no more than one (1) year. This includes 24 - 48-hour stays for DUI offenses or other acts of public disturbance. If a court finds a person guilty of a misdemeanor, such a person will also be incarcerated in jail, as misdemeanors, known as Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey (N. J. S.2C:1–4),, attract jail terms of no more than one (1) year. County sheriffs or local police departments typically manage jails.

Prisons, on the other hand, are state-run. Prisons house state or federal offenders sentenced to prison terms longer than one (1) year. Typically, persons convicted of felony crimes, or as it is known in New Jersey, indictable crimes, are held in state or federal prisons. Because prisons serve larger populations than jails, prisons are larger.

How Many Prisons are in New Jersey?

The state of New Jersey has 12 correctional facilities:

Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center

Bayside State Prison

Central Reception and Assignment Facility

East Jersey State Prison

Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

Garden State Youth Correction

Mid-State Correctional Facility

New Jersey State Prison

Northern State Prison

South Woods State Prison

Southern State Correctional Facility

William H. Fauver Youth Correctional Facility

How do I search for an Inmate in New Jersey State Prison?

The New Jersey Department of Corrections offers an Inmate Finder tool that helps interested parties search for inmates in any state facility. The public offender database helps to promote public safety by providing public access to offender information as required in the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The DOC updates the database every two weeks for accuracy. Requested parties may search using any of the following criteria:

  • Inmate’s State Bureau of Identification (SBI) number
  • Gender
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Race
  • Current facility location
  • County of commitment
  • Birthdate range
  • Age range

Requesting parties must note that the inmate finder database does not contain information about offenders whose sentences were completed at least one (1) year before the time of the request. Additionally, at the DOC’s discretion, the Inmate Finder tool may exclude information about specific offenders.

Are Incarceration Records Public in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) mandates every government agency in the state to make available copies of records that the agency generates or maintains on request, except where exempted by law. Interested parties may search for incarceration records using the search function on the Inmate Finder website. Interested parties may also request incarceration records by submitting OPRA requests to the Department of Corrections.

State laws authorize the dissemination of criminal history records to authorized persons for specific purposes. For example, lawyers, government entities, and private detectives may request any criminal history records. Such persons may submit written requests for forms to the New Jersey State Police.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Look Up Jail Records in New Jersey?

Local law enforcement such as county sheriffs or local police manages jail records. As such, persons interested in looking up jail records, arrest records, and jail inmates’ criminal history records may contact the county sheriff or the local law enforcement superintendent in the location where the inmate is incarcerated. Requesting parties may contact the sheriff’s office or the local police by mail, phone, or fax; however, some sheriff’s offices provide jail records or jail records request forms online. Requesting parties must contact the record custodian directly to determine the best records request method.

Can Jail Records be Expunged in New Jersey?

When the court grants the expungement of a New Jersey record, the court, law enforcement, and other government agencies with copies of the record remove the record from public view by isolating and extracting the records. According to N. J.S.2C:52–27, the state of New Jersey provides for expungement for non-conviction records if:

  • The court dismisses the case against the accused.
  • The court acquits the accused without guilt.
  • The offender completed a supervised treatment program.

If the court dismisses a case because of a plea bargain for a different charge, the record holder may only file for expungement after the court expunges the conviction record. Additionally, if the court dismisses a case because the offender completed a supervised treatment program, the offender may not file for expungement for six (6) months after the offender completes the treatment program.

New Jersey provides for the expungement of conviction records of eligible indictable crimes six (6) years after the offender completes the sentence and meets other expungement requirements. The waiting period for disorderly person offenses is five (5) years and two (2) years for eligible municipal violations. Petitioners must note that motor vehicle offenses, murder, kidnapping, robbery, child endangerment, arson, sex crimes, and false imprisonment are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey. To request expungement, interested parties may file a petition with the court that first heard the case the petitioner seeks to expunge.

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  • And More!