Action Alert May May 28, 2014: Bail Reform Phone Campaign

 

Dear UUMNJ Family,

As you know, the month of June can become rather hectic as the legislature strives to complete passed legislation before its summer recess.  Bail reform is one of those pieces of legislation.  One of our coalition partners, Drug Policy Alliance, has asked for help.  Could you please make calls and send this out to anyone who is concerned about bail reform and mass incarceration and ask them to do the same.  Please read the information below thoroughly and call those indicated to voice both your support and concern.

Thanks,

Rev. Craig Hirshberg, Exec. Director
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ
4 Waldron Ave.
Summit, NJ 07901
609.672.7331

 

In case you missed my email before the holiday weekend, we need your help to ensure real bail reform is achieved in Trenton.  As you know, the New Solutions Campaign coalition has been working diligently on bail reform legislation thatpromotes both safety and justice.  Now that we are only a few weeks away from the legislative summer recess, time is of essence and we need your help:

1)     As the legislature considers bail reform (as early as next week) and amends the final legislation, it’s extremely important we have a strong presence at the statehouse to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens don’t get left behind.  Please let me know ASAP if you’re available on June 5th and June 12th to come to Trenton to fight for real bail reform.  As usual, DPA staff is available to assist you with drafting testimony and helping you prepare for the hearing.

2)     It’s crucial that elected officials hear from New Jerseyans regarding how important real bail reform is to them!  Legislators need to know that we won’t accept “reform” that does nothing to improve fairness or public safety, disproportionately impacts minorities, and discriminates against poor people.  Per my instructions below, please take a few minutes to call members of the Senate Budget Committee (names and phone numbers listed below).

3)     We need to spread this call to action across the state so that we can make the biggest impact possible!  Please forward this email to your friends, family members, and colleagues in New Jersey.  If you are affiliated with an organization, please post this information to your website.  If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please encourage advocacy on bail reform through social media.

CALL INSTRUCTIONS

The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, June 5th and there is a possibility that the bail reform legislation (S946/A1910) we have been advocating for will be considered.

Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the version of “reform” under consideration does nothing to improve fairness or public safety, disproportionately impacts minorities, and discriminates against poor people.  It’s possible the bail bill could be amended to benefit the for-profit bail industry which will hurt our families and communities.  Therefore, we need to make sure the committee members support REAL bail reform and hear from us THIS WEEK

Real bail reform legislation requires three major components:

1)     Replace the current bail schedule with non-monetary release options

2)     Establish pretrial service units to supervise defendants who need supervision while on release pending trial

3)     Mandate use of a validated risk assessment instrument on all arrestees

Please contact the sponsor of the legislation and members of the budget committee to express your support for Real Bail Reform but your deep concerns with any amendments that would continue to prioritize resources over risk in our bail system. If you don’t have time to call all the members, please prioritize those italicized below.

1.     Senator Donald Norcross (Sponsor of bail bill): (856) 547-4800

2.     Senator Paul A. Sarlo (Senate Budget Chairman): (201) 804-8118

3.     Senator Sandra B. Cunningham: (201) 451-5100

4.     Senator Nellie Pou: (973) 247-1555

5.     Senator Brian P. Stack: (201) 721-5263

6.     Senator Peter J. Barnes: (732) 548-1406

7.     Senator Jennifer Beck: (732) 933-1591

8.     Senator Anthony R. Bucco: (973) 627-9700

9.     Senator Linda R. Greenstein: (609) 395-9911

10.  Senator Kevin J. O’Toole: (973) 237-1360

11.  Senator Steven V. Oroho: (973) 300-0200

12.  Senator M. Teresa Ruiz: (973) 484-1000

13.  Senator Samuel D. Thompson: (732) 607-7580

14.  Senator Jeff Van Drew: (609) 465-0700

Below my signature are some talking points and tips for making a call.  Once again, please forward this call to action to all your friends, family and colleagues in New Jersey!

This is your opportunity to go the extra mile and make sure we don’t leave New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens behind!  Thank you for all that you do! 

Best,

Meagan

Meagan Glaser, MPAP |Deputy State Director, New Jersey
Drug Policy Alliance

16 West Front Street, Suite 101A | Trenton, NJ 08608
Voice: 609.396.8613 | Fax: 609.396.9478
www.drugpolicy.org
Think the drug war is doing more harm than good? Join us!

Tips on Making a Call

Most legislators’ staff answer their phones during the session and log all of the messages. The call will only take a minute!

  • Be courteous, positive, and brief.
  • Identify yourself and mention that you are a New Jersey resident
  • Ask to speak with the legislators’ Legislative Aide or Chief of Staff if the legislator is unavailable
  • Ask that the legislator support REAL bail reform and oppose any amendments to Senate Bill 946 that would prioritize resources over risk when the bill comes before them for a vote. 
  • Leave a message if you are calling after business hours.

What to Say:

When the receptionist in the legislator’s office answers the phone, politely say something like: My name is [NAME], may I please speak with [LEGISLATOR’S NAME].  If the legislator isn’t available (which is most likely the case), politely ask to speak with his or her Legislative Aide or Chief of Staff.

When you get the appropriate person on the phone or when leaving a message (if none of these individuals are available), politely say something like: I’m calling to urge [LEGISLATOR’S NAME] to support real bail reform.  It’s important that they oppose any amendments that do nothing to improve public safety or fairness, disproportionately impact minorities, and discriminate against poor people.  New Jersey needs real bail reform not more of the same broken system.

Politely follow-up this statement with something like: Do you know where [LEGISLATOR’S NAME] stands on this issue?  I am hoping [LEGISLATOR’S NAME] will support real and comprehensive bail reform.

Talking points re real bail reform & possible amendments that would undermine S946/A1910

  • Thousands of New Jerseyans awaiting trial for nonviolent charges are sitting in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay their bail.  People with money can buy their freedom but those without are stuck behind bars, often for months on end, just because they can’t afford as little as a couple thousand dollars for their bail.
    • S946/A1910 must be REAL bail reform which requires the following components:

1)     Replacing the current bail schedule with non-monetary release options

2)     Establishing pretrial service units to supervise defendants who need supervision while on release pending trial

3)     Mandating use of a validated risk assessment instrument on all arrestees

  • Please oppose any amendments to S946/A1910 that base pretrial release decisions on resources rather than risk.  Such amendments jeopardize public safety and will do nothing to improve fairness, disproportionately impact minorities and discriminate against poor people. 
  • The NJ Supreme Court recently released the report of the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice calling for significant changes to the current bail system including a move away from a resource-based system to one reliant on risk by prioritizing nonmonetary conditions of release, requiring all defendants to undergo a risk assessment before their initial bail hearing, establishing pretrial services agencies to supervise and monitor those released, and permitting the absolute detention of truly dangerous individuals.  Please consider these recommendations when voting on S946/A1910.

For more information visit: http://www.drugpolicy.org/about-us/departments-and-state-offices/new-jersey/new-solutions-campaign/new-solutions-campaign-bail

Follow-Up:

After you call these legislators it would be greatly appreciated if you shared your conversation with me.  Please e-mail mglaser@drugpolicy.org and/or call 609-496-3497 and let me know how the committee members felt about bail reform.  Do they support all three components of REAL bail reform?  Are they planning on opposing any harmful amendments to the legislation?  Do they need more information to make a decision?

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