Challenge Racial Disparity in the NJ Criminal Justice System! Support Senate Bill 677!
A bill will be coming up for vote in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday that would require a racial and ethnic impact statement for certain bills and regulations affecting sentencing. We are asking our supporters to write the committee members and urge them to move this important racial and criminal justice measure to the floor for a vote.
Racial disparities in the justice system have been shown to harm not only individuals in the system, but also their families and communities. A recent ACLU report found that black and Hispanic people, particularly men, were between two and 10 times more likely to be arrested for petty crimes than white offenders in four New Jersey cities..
ACLU-NJ’s executive director, Udi Ofer, says “Whether the cities were large or small, or in north, central or southern New Jersey, the data revealed a clear pattern of people of color bearing the brunt of police practices.”
New Jersey’s prison population has grown from 6,087 in 1980 to 21,590 in 2014. In New Jersey, African Americans represent 12.9% in the general population yet African Americans make up over 60% of New Jersey’s prison population.
S677 would challenge racial disparity in targeted ways:
- S677 will govern a process for racial impact statements, a tool for lawmakers to evaluate the potential disparities of proposed legislation on persons of color prior to adoption and implementation. Analogous to environmental impact statements, they assist legislators in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications before the change is adopted, rather than once they have been implemented;
- S677 would require the racial and ethnic impact statement to include a statistical analysis of how the change in policy would affect racial and ethnic minorities;
- S677 would amend public distribution for notices to appear in the Register for adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rule to include a racial impact statement.
In recent years other states – Connecticut, Iowa, and Oregon — have adopted similar legislation.
The passage of Senate Bill 677 is a step in the right direction to challenge racial disparity in New Jersey.