Opportunity to Compete Act

Hundreds of thousands, likely several million, New Jersey residents are being denied meaningful opportunity for employment because of their criminal records, most of which are old, for minor offenses, did not result in a conviction (much less any imprisonment), and have no bearing on their ability to perform as reliable employees. The barriers faced by individuals with criminal records are due to employers who screen out any applicants with criminal records and to statutory bars to employment and professional licensure.

On August 11, 2014, Governor Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act (A1999). The enactment of the law is the culmination of a long, hard-fought campaign that mobilized a statewide coalition of mayors, clergy, and advocates. Enactment of the law is an enormous step in the direction of expanding opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, and the Institute continues the fight toward the next round of reforms.

Bail Reform

Senate Bill 946, also signed into law on August 11, 2014, will revamp a broken system that currently keeps nearly 6,000 people locked up before trial merely because they are unable to afford bail – not because they have been determined to be a danger to the community.

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