NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Fair Share Housing Center, NAACP New Jersey State Conference and Salvation and Social Justice today wrote to Gov. Murphy urging him to conditionally veto A2426, a bill that will make it easier to detain people accused of certain firearm offenses.
A2426 weakens the Criminal Justice Reform Act – a historic bipartisan criminal justice reform law that eliminated bail for most offenses – and can provide a slippery slope to the increased detainment of people in New Jersey and exacerbate our already stark racial disparities.
New Jersey law requires that a racial and ethnic impact statement is provided for criminal justice bills affecting pretrial detention before the legislature votes on them. As this didn’t happen, it is now up to the Governor to conditionally veto the bill since proper legal process was not followed. As it stands now, it is unknown to what degree this legislation will disproportionately impact communities of color.
A full copy of the letter is below:
June 30, 2022
The Honorable Governor Phil Murphy
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Murphy,
We, the undersigned Black-led New Jersey racial justice groups, strongly urge you to conditionally veto A2426 because the Legislature has failed to produce a racial and ethnic impact statement on the bill as mandated by law.
New Jersey is home to stark racial disparities – disparities that may worsen if A2426 becomes law. Black people in the Garden State are three times more likely to have the police use force against them compared to white people. Black people are also disproportionately detained in county jails, accounting for 42% of all jailed individuals. Even though Black people are only 15% of the population, Black people account for 61% of individuals in Department of Corrections custody. Black adults are also 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults – the highest disparity rate in the nation.
Recognizing that New Jersey’s criminal justice system has been and continues to be racialized, New Jersey law specifically requires that the Office of Legislative Services “prepare a racial and ethnic community criminal justice and public safety impact statement for each proposed criminal justice bill, resolution, or amendment that would affect pretrial detention … prior to any vote being taken on the bill, resolution, or amendment in either House of the Legislature.” This assessment was never completed, despite our request made during committee testimony, even though the singular focus of A2426 is pretrial detention. Furthermore, an assessment by the Administrative Office of the Courts of an earlier version of this bill predicted that it would result in racial disparities. At this point, we do not know the extent to which A2426 will exacerbate existing racial disparities because the statutorily required impact statement was not made.
In keeping with your commitment to racial justice within our state, we urge you to conditionally veto A2426 and require that the Legislature perform the mandatory racial and ethnic impact statement before considering signing this bill.
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
Salvation and Social Justice
NAACP New Jersey State Conference
Fair Share Housing Center