Get on the Bus

By Kim Dreyer Page 1/2

Sure, its easy to say, "they deserve it," or "they should have known better." But imagine your own father, mother or spouse being sentenced to years, or maybe even a lifetime, in prison.


Buses depart from Newark's Penn
Station and shuttle patrons to
secluded destinations such as The
Adult Diagnostic and Treatment
Center, in Avenel and the Southern
State Prison in Delmont.

As if their absence alone wouldn't be difficult enough, imagine not even having a car or bus fare to pay for an occasional visit. For many families of inmates, this is reality.

But there is an answer. Since 1973, thousands of prisoner families in New Jersey have been turning to The Joint Connection (T.J.C.), a nonprofit agency that provides affordable transportation to N.J.'s 29 state prisons.

Mainly catering to N.J. residents who are classified as low income or who receive public assistance, T.J.C. recognizes the need to keep prisoners, regardless of economic status, in close contact with their families.

Founder, secretary and executive director of T.J.C John Mavros, said, "In our society, we lock people up with little regard for what happens to the people affected by the lockup."

"The consequences are divorce, inmates noncompliance with prison rules, and high rates of recidivism upon release. In close-knit families, when one member goes to jail, the whole family goes to jail," Mavros said.

Every weekend, The Joint Connection makes sure this doesn't happen. Buses depart from Newark's Penn Station and shuttle patrons to secluded destinations such as The Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, in Avenel and the Southern State Prison in Delmont. Depending on the distance traveled, fares range from $3.50 to $18.


Aside from keeping families connected
and providing them with basic health
needs, T.J.C. recognizes that there is
a high correlation between unemployment
and repeat offenders, and they have
done something about it.

Mavros said that "ninety-two percent of our clients use public transit" but many of New Jersey's prisons are in places where public transportation doesn't go.

However, T.J.C. offers families more than the transportation. The Joint Connection recruits health officials throughout the state to provide information on basic health care, AIDS, and H.I.V. testing. They ride along with the passengers, lecturing and addressing concerns.

Without this service, clients living under welfare-like conditions wouldn't have access to quality health care information.

Aside from keeping families connected and providing them with basic health needs, T.J.C. recognizes that there is a high correlation between unemployment and repeat offenders, and they have done something about it.


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