Republican Sponsors Bill To Encourage Inmate Trash Sorting Programs

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale

TRENTON — A Republican lawmaker would like to see prison inmates put to work sorting trash to reduce the amount of recyclable waste sent to New Jersey landfills.

“Every year exorbitant amounts of recyclable materials end up in landfills across New Jersey, endangering local environments and costing taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars in waste removal fees,” said state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen, Passaic). “It’s time we think outside the box to curb this continual cycle of waste.”

Cardinale’s legislation would authorize the State Department of Corrections and county correctional facilities to create work programs for inmates to sort and recycle materials at landfills.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the state recycled 40 percent of solid municipal waste in 2010. The agency estimated last year that the amount of materials that are disposed and not recycled costs tax payers and business owners between $75 and $80 million in waste disposal fees every year.

The average cost for housing an inmate in state prison for one year is about $49,000.

“Given the high cost of incarceration, by responsibly implementing this program, inmates can give back to society by helping improve our environment,” Cardinale concluded.

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