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New Jersey Criminal Justice Programs

Crime has gone down drastically in New Jersey over the past few years, and its median crime rate is lower than the national rate. However, there are still many challenges that criminal justice professionals in the state face. For example, criminal justice reform involves new training protocols for police officers and other law enforcement staff. Corrections professionals focus less on securing prisons and more on helping offenders stay out of prison or reduce their time in prison.
You can contribute to these efforts by entering the field of criminal justice in New Jersey.

Criminal Justice Careers in New Jersey

New Jersey’s criminal justice system includes three independent yet interconnected branches: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Each of these branches is staffed by a wide variety of criminal justice professionals.

Law Enforcement Careers in New Jersey

Law enforcement personnel work to enforce laws, disrupt crime, and keep the peace. They’re the police officers, detectives, and other front-line professionals who patrol streets and neighborhoods, respond to complaints and emergency calls, apprehend suspects, and conduct investigations.

This table examines the median salaries in New Jersey for some of the most common law enforcement professions, as well as projected job growth over the next decade.

CareerCareer Outlook (2016 – 26)Annual Median Salary
Police officers–2%$85,330
Private detectives and investigators+11%$62,060

All data from Career One Stop.

Jobs in the New Jersey Courts

The American criminal justice system presumes that suspects arrested by law enforcement professionals are innocent until proven guilty. Determining innocence or guilt is the job of the courts. Judges, prosecutors, and supporting staff weigh evidence and charges and consider plea agreements. Some cases never get to trial, but those that do are overseen by judges who ensure that suspects receive fair trials.

Here’s a look at New Jersey’s projected job growth and median salaries for some of the most common criminal justice jobs in the courts.

CareerCareer Outlook (2016 – 26)Annual Median Salary
Paralegals and legal assistants+16%$55,770

All data from Career One Stop.

Corrections Careers in New Jersey

Upon conviction, criminal offenders are turned over to criminal justice professionals who work in corrections. In some cases, offenders are not sent to prison but are monitored by corrections officials such as probation officers. In other cases, offenders are incarcerated, and corrections officers and others secure and safeguard them in jails and prisons. Other professionals in those facilities work to prepare inmates for re-entry into society or assess their readiness to do so.

The following table examines median salaries and growth projections for some of the most common jobs in corrections.

CareerCareer Outlook (2016 – 26)Annual Median Salary
Correctional officers and jailers–14%$71,700
Probation officers–3%$73,780

All data from Career One Stop.

Criminal Justice Education Resources in New Jersey

Before you start your education journey into the field of criminal justice, you might want to learn as much as you can about different career options. Checking some official resources in the different areas of criminal justice can be a good place to start. Below we’ve listed some of those resources.

  • Corrections: State of New Jersey Department of Corrections
    Careers include corrections officer, administrator, correctional police officer, and institutional trade instructor.
    Has information about salaries and benefits, requirements, hiring procedures, academic and physical fitness standards, pre-employment processing, and how to apply.
  • Police officers: New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Police Training Commission
    Careers include all types of police and other law enforcement officers.
    Provides information about academy training, law enforcement certification, alternate certification, agency training, and frequently asked questions.
  • State police officers: New Jersey State Police Recruiting
    Careers include state police officers, marine patrol, forensics, and communications specialists.
    Provides information about recruiting events, salaries and benefits, the academy, minimum standards and disqualifiers, physical requirements, and the Pre-Employment Preparation Program (PEPP).
  • Parole officers: State Parole Board
    Careers include parole officers and parole counselors.
    Includes information about salary and benefits, the application process, job specifications, and apprenticeship and internship programs.
  • Justice system: Division of Criminal Justice
    Careers include attorneys, paralegals, detectives, and bailiffs.
    Offers information for students at both the undergraduate and law school levels, including application processes and information about alternative careers within the division.

Innovations in Criminal Justice in New Jersey

The jail and prison populations in New Jersey are shrinking­—but it’s not only due to reduced crime rates. Groups like the New Jersey ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance have spearheaded reform in New Jersey, with the goal of ensuring equity within the criminal justice system.

One such reform that has cut down on jail populations is an act that virtually eliminates the cash bail system. This system had long confined poor suspects who couldn’t afford bail while allowing more affluent suspects to await trial in freedom. Now, for the most part, only suspects who pose a significant threat of danger or flight are detained. Judges are charged with determining which suspects to detain. To do this, they rely on a network of supporting staff and technology—which could lead to new and exciting court jobs in criminal justice.

The state’s sweeping parole reform measure would reduce the time that many convicted criminals spend in prison. As such, it would increase the number of convicted offenders who require supervised release. This would require new hiring and training of parole officers and corrections counselors inside prisons to help prepare offenders for early release.

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Main Criminal Justice Governmental Agencies and Entities in New Jersey

The following offices and agencies employ, train, and supervise the vast majority of criminal justice professionals in New Jersey. The state is unique in how much of the criminal justice community is streamlined and organized under the office of the state’s attorney general.

  • Office of the Attorney General: The Office of the Attorney General is a massive organization that includes Alcoholic Beverage Control, Highway Traffic Safety, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Division of Law, the State Police, and the Criminal Justice division, to name a few. The office employs everyone from investigators and lawyers to analysts and forensics experts.
  • Department of Corrections: With 8,000 employees and a budget of nearly $1 billion, and the NJ DOC is responsible for 20,000 offenders across 12 facilities. The organization employs a wide range of criminal justice employees, including corrections officers, social workers, administrators, and institutional instructors.
  • State Parole Board: Unlike many other states, the Parole Board is separate from the Department of Corrections in New Jersey. The state’s SPB conducts more than 20,000 parole hearings and supervises more than 15,000 offenders. It’s also responsible for supervising sex offenders in the state. Among the criminal justice professionals it employs are parole officers and parole counselors.
  • New Jersey State Police: This division is one of the many under the Office of the Attorney General. It provides general law enforcement services across the state, including highway and traffic enforcement. It also conducts statewide investigations, provides intelligence services, prepares for emergencies and disasters, supports state and local law enforcement, and maintains criminal records.
  • Division of Criminal Justice: Also under the Office of the Attorney General, the Division of Criminal Justice serves the Attorney General, who is the top law enforcement officer in the state. Its detectives, assistant attorneys general, and professional personnel are charged with detecting, disrupting, and prosecuting criminal organizations around the state.

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in New Jersey

If you’re studying criminal justice—or already working in the field—you may be interested in connecting with some of the following organizations.

  • New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association: This union represents many of the state’s police officers. It advocates for them politically, conducts public outreach, hosts events and fundraisers, and negotiates their collective bargaining agreements.
  • New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association: A local union within the NJSPBA, this association works specifically on behalf of retired police officers and corrections officers in New Jersey.
  • Sheriff’s Association of New Jersey: Sheriffs are the chief law enforcement officers in their county. This organization represents them, providing information about current news and community programs.
  • New Jersey Law Enforcement Commanding Officers Association: This group is a duly elected professional employee organization that represents law enforcement officers at the command level—mainly the ranks of major, captain, or their equivalent—across a range of organizations and professions.
  • New Jersey State Corrections Union: This group is a local union under the NJSPBA. It represents and advocates for the state’s corrections, juvenile justice, parole, and probation officers.
  • New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists: This organization is dedicated to furthering and improving the study of forensic science in the state. It works to foster cooperation between forensic scientists, educators, law enforcement organizations, and the public.

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