In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that have swept across our nation, New Jersey has an opportunity to lead the way in bringing transformational change to a criminal justice system that has largely failed Black and brown communities.
Because the pain associated with this movement is not limited to any single issue, incident of excessive force, or killing, we must acknowledge New Jersey’s own long history in not living up to the all-important words, “justice for all.” In fact, New Jersey is the state that holds the shameful distinction of having the nation’s worst disparity in rates of incarceration between black and white offenders — an abhorrent 12-to-1. We can — and must — do better.
In recent years we have made meaningful progress, enacting critical components of the Gov. Phil Murphy’s Second Chance Agenda that allow for the expungement of criminal records for residents who have been held back based on past convictions and giving residents on parole or probation back their right to vote. Despite this progress, we know our work is far from over. We must ensure that barriers continue to fall, and the scales of justice find their proper balance.