With Governor Christie’s signature, NJ now has a powerful tool to prevent disparities from worsening

January 16, 2018

Racial and ethnic impact statements will now be the law of New Jersey. The ACLU-NJ applauded Governor Christie for signing into law S677/A3677, which will require bills and regulations related to criminal justice to project their impact on communities of color. The historic action took place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as thousands across New Jersey celebrated the legacy of Dr. King and echoed the need for justice.

New Jersey joins the ranks of states making smarter decisions regarding criminal justice.

The New Jersey Legislature approved Governor Christie’s minor changes to the bill during the lame duck session.

New Jersey has the largest racial disparity nationwide in Black and white incarceration rates, with Black New Jerseyans incarcerated at a rate 12 times higher than white individuals. This law will help address criminal justice disparities by giving lawmakers information about the potential consequences of proposed policies.

The following statement can be attributed to Dianna Houenou, Policy Counsel of the ACLU of New Jersey:

“New Jersey now has an incredibly powerful tool to stop racial disparities in the criminal justice system from worsening. Now, if lawmakers and regulators want to make changes to our criminal justice system, they will have to provide information about how it will affect people of color, who for decades have been disproportionately arrested and more harshly sentenced.

“Lawmakers need to know whether a policy could disproportionately harm people of color when they still have a chance to fix it.

“This is an important step for making New Jersey a national leader in criminal justice reform. With this law, we have the potential not only to shine a light on our current disparities, but to foresee the impact of proposals that could worsen them. We thank the Assembly, the Senate, and Governor Christie for putting this law in place.

“Laws that can put people in cages, break up families, and strip people of their essential freedoms cannot be passed lightly, and now our lawmakers will be armed with greater information as they consider changing those laws.”

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