New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Prisoner Release Proves Health Emergency Must End, Pennacchio Says

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With the imminent early release of almost 300 more convicted criminals by Governor Murphy and his Department of Corrections, Senator Joe Pennacchio revived calls for terminating the public health emergency.

With the imminent early release of almost 300 more convicted criminals by Gov. Murphy and his Department of Corrections, Sen. Joe Pennacchio revived calls for terminating the public health emergency. (

“As he has done for more than a year, the Governor is using the pandemic as cover for turning criminals loose in New Jersey neighborhoods,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “After announcing plans to lift other COVID restrictions and as statewide numbers continue to improve, he’s ready to run through the cell blocks unlocking doors and letting the bad guys run free to protect them from a relatively benign omicron variant of the virus.”

A published report said Murphy plans to free another 260 criminals today, and noted more than 5,300 crime-breakers have already been cut loose, accounting for 40 percent of the pre-COVID prison population.

“The Governor decided to risk public safety to protect prisoners from the virus, but he did nothing to ensure the health of vulnerable seniors in nursing homes,” Pennacchio noted. “The virus is running out of steam. There is hardly any risk to keeping these criminals behind bars where they belong. There is absolutely no need to let even one more prisoner out of jail early.”

The Governor can order the prisoner release, among other unilateral powers, under the current public health emergency he reinstated on Jan. 11. The declaration is set to expire this week, unless it is extended.

“It is time to halt the prisoner release policy. There is no excuse for it now, no need for it, and we can stop it by ending the public health emergency,” Pennacchio said.

“With his emergency powers, Murphy has taken too much from New Jersey. Residents want their safe streets back.”

Senate Republicans have launched the “Give It Back” initiative to give New Jerseyans an opportunity to tell Governor Phil Murphy in a unified voice to give back everything he has taken from them over the past two years, including safe streets in their neighborhoods.

More than 4,400 New Jerseyans have already told Governor Murphy to “Give It Back” at

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