Mayor Steven Fulop: ‘America can do much, much better’ with our prison system. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and ex-NJ Governor Jim McGreevey spoke to a packed room at St. Peter’s University for the Prisoner Re-entry Conference on Thursday.
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I credit Fulop and McGreevey for taking a proactive stance on how to best reintegrate prisoners and former prisoners back into society. I am reminded by Michel Foucalt’s seminal work Discipline and Punish how far ee have come in this regard. However. Mayor Fulop must not lose sight of how economics and politics often contribute (sometimes in negative ways) to the crime that leads to the incarceration. While it is commendable for Mayor Fulop to embrace and fascilitate the order to give Jersey City workers paid leave, it is the height of irresponsibility to continue to grant property tax abatements to the well-off, at the expense of the non abated full tax rate paying owners of one and two family homes and other property that is not tax exempt or subject to rent control. The renters of same are cought in the middle, as they often have to help absorb the higher taxes through higher rents. Instead of cozying up to the rich developers, Fulop should be mindful that residents displaced by gentrification are more vulnerable economically and could very well inadvertently be so driven by this negative economic impact on their lives to make bad though desperate choices that place them in jail, thus necessitating their incarceration, training, and rehabilitation at taxpayer expense. An ounce of prevention is cheaper and better than a pound of cure.