On Monday, June 20 the co-chair of our Dismantling Racism Group, Rohn Hein, provided testimony before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee in support of SB-677 that would require a racial and ethnic impact statement for certain bills and regulations affecting sentencing. To learn more about the bill click here.
Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, Monday, June 20, 2016
S-677 Requiring Racial Impact Statement
My name is Rohn Hein and I represent the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey. I want to thank Chairwoman Linda Greenstein and the other members of the committee for allowing me the opportunity to say a few words in support of S-677, a bill that requires the development of a racial impact statement on bills before the state legislature.
The UU Legislative Ministry of NJ represents all of the UU Churches in the State of New Jersey and we believe as part of our seven principles – the inherent worth of every human being. Over the last forty years as our country has attempted to deal with the huge damage done to our society by the use of illicit drugs, legislation has been passed at both the national and state level with no regard to how disproportionately they would affect people of color. The main goal was to eradicate the problem and punish those we thought were the bad guys. The unintended consequences of these imprudent measures were a burgeoning prison population that is predominantly made up of blacks and Hispanics. As the bills were being discussed, no one even raised a question as to the final result of these actions. No one even raised their hand and said, “Let’s go slow and take a look at how this plays out.”
We at the UU Legislative Ministry are raising our collective hands and saying, “Let’s take our time and do our homework this time.”
Why we should be in such a hurry to pass legislation without a conclusive look at how we are acting racially. Too many people are saying that we live in a color blind society and that we don’t need this scrutiny. We say, if everyone believes that all sectors of our communities are being protected, what harm does it cause for us to make a rational, racial impact statement on each piece of legislation that this august body decides upon
Let’s not make a rush to judgment when patience and understanding could serve us better in creating an atmosphere of harmony and peace together.