“So by connecting voting to the criminal justice system, New Jersey literally imports these racial disparities from the criminal justice system into the political process,” said president of the Social Justice Institute Ryan Haygood. “Ultimately the punishment for crimes in prison is confinement but you’re still a person.”
Consensus isn’t unanimous on the legislation, however, with Sen. Gerald Cardinale firmly on the side of opposition.
“I think it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Our democracy is based on the fact that people who vote, create the public policies, under which all of us agree to live,” said the 39th District Republican.
Cardinale acknowledges the racial disparities in criminal justice proceedings, but he says the solution is correcting the system so people are not wrongfully convicted.
Identical bills were introduced in the Senate and Assembly in March of last year. If signed into law, New Jersey would join Maine and Vermont in allowing people with a criminal conviction the right to vote.
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