Support Grows for Criminal Justice Reform Bill With Official Misconduct Amendment
NJ State Bar Association, Coalition of Latino Pastors and Social Justice Advocates Urge Passage of Amended Bill
NORTH BERGEN, NJ – Several prominent statewide voices have joined the growing list of supporters of S2586, the criminal justice reform bill that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for several nonviolent crimes, including official misconduct. State Senator Nicholas J. Sacco (D-32) has been working to gain additional support for the measure and is urging the State Assembly to vote on the bill, which passed the State Senate in August with nearly unanimous support among Democrats.
“I want to convey our strong support of S2586/A4369, which implements several of the sentencing recommendations of the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission to eliminate certain mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment,” said New Jersey State Bar Association President Kimbery A. Yonta in a letter addressed to legislative leaders. “Mandatory minimum sentencing schemes have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and have resulted in New Jersey having the highest disparity in the nation between incarceration of people of color and white people. We urge this bill’s swift passage in the Legislature.”
“By passing this bill the New Jersey State Legislature would restore faith in our justice system and keep sentencing in the courts,” said Rev. Raul Ruiz, President of the Coalition of Latino Clergy. “Furthermore, prosecutors may coerce defendants to plead guilty. Under such a system, the specific circumstances and needs of the individual are neglected. Universalist policies such as minimum sentencing violate the tenets of due process including official misconduct, thereby undermining our judicial system.”
According to an NJ.com story, prominent social justice advocates are also supporting passing the bill in its current form:
“But the consensus among leaders from NJ Together, a non-partisan coalition of faith groups … was that the bill should be passed whether it includes official misconduct or not. ‘Do whatever it takes,’ Rev. Alonzo Perry Sr., pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Jersey City said. ‘Let’s get this bill passed.’”
“New Jersey is one of only two states that refuses to trust the judiciary to impose fair sentences on official misconduct charges, and it’s time for that to change as well as for mandatory minimums to be removed for other nonviolent offenses,” said Senator Sacco. “My amendment is not about stopping this bill, it’s about making it stronger and more comprehensive by removing a tool that has too often been abused by reckless prosecutions. The Senate passed it and now it’s time for the Assembly to do the same.”
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