Scott Novakowski: Restore Voting Rights to People on Parole and Probation

Scott Novakowski writes in NJ Spotlight:

New Jersey currently bans almost 95,000 people from voting because of a criminal conviction. Over three-quarters of whom — about 70,000 people — have been released from prison and are on parole or probation.

They are living and working in our communities, raising families, and paying taxes. As our recent report with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law noted, New Jersey disfranchises more people living in the community than any other state in the Northeast, and more than Connecticut, Delaware, and New York combined...

People of color are disproportionately impacted by criminal disfranchisement laws due to well-documented systemic racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. This systemic racial discrimination is acutely felt in New Jersey, where, according to a Sentencing Project report, black residents are incarcerated at a rate twelve times higher than their white counterparts. New Jersey, shamefully, has the highest Black/white racial disparity rate in the country.

New Jersey’s disfranchisement law exacerbates the racial discrimination in New Jersey’s criminal justice system by importing inequality directly into our electorate. As a result, nearly half of those who have lost their right to vote because of a criminal conviction in New Jersey are Black.

To read the full piece, please click here.

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