It may come as a shock to some that New Jersey has the highest rate of racial disparity in the nation when it comes to sentencing and incarceration. The Sentencing Project, a national research and advocacy organization, found that African Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. In New Jersey the ratio is even higher: 12 to 1. In fact, in New Jersey in 2014, one in 31 of all African American adult males was in prison. New Jersey has the highest black/white disparity in its prisons among the states, even though we have reduced our overall prison population in general over the last several years. African Americans make up approximately 13% of the state’s population — yet they compromise over 61% of the state’s prison population.
We ask for your help to address this glaring and unfair racial disparity in New Jersey’s criminal justice system. Bipartisan legislation recently passed the NJ Senate and will soon be considered in the Assembly. The legislation – Senate Bill 677/Assembly Bill 3677 – authorizes racial impact statements for proposed criminal justice policies. This approach would be similar to environmental and fiscal impact statements, assisting legislators to detect unforeseen policy ramifications before they happen.
How You Can Help
Step 1: Call and Email Members of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee
· Chairman Daniel Benson (phone: 609-631-0198 email: AsmBenson@njleg.org)
· Vice Chairman Joe Danielsen (phone: 609-847-3500 email: AsmDanielsen@njleg.org)
· Honorable Arthur Barclay (phone: 609-847-3500 email: AsmBarclay@njleg.org)
· Honorable Michael Patrick Carroll (phone: 609-847-3400 email: AsmCarroll@njleg.org)
· Honorable Annette Chaparro (phone: 609- 847-3500 email: AswChaparro@njleg.org)
· Honorable Erik Peterson (phone: 609-847-3400 email: AsmPeterson@njleg.org)
· Honorable Nancy J. Pinkin (phone: 609-847-3500 email: AswPinkin@njleg.org)
· Honorable David P. Rible (phone: 609-847-3400 email: AsmRible@njleg.org)
· Honorable Shavonda E. Sumter (phone: 609-847-3500) email: AswSumter@njleg.org)
- Edit/personalize the form email. It makes your message more effective. Also, confirm you are a constituent of one of the Committee members here. If so, be sure to mention that too.
Use the following sample script: “As a New Jersey resident, I ask you to cosponsor Assembly Bill 3677, which authorizes racial impact statements for certain bills and regulations that affect sentencing. The measure helps address fairness in the New Jersey criminal justice system.”
Other talking points:
- New Jersey has the highest rate of racial disparity among African American and white prisoners.
- Fairness dictates the use of racial impact statements in considering proposed sentencing laws.
- Other states: Connecticut, Iowa, and Oregon have adopted racial impact statements.
- Assembly Bill 3677 will contribute to better policymaking. Racial impact statements provide lawmakers with information prior to deliberating on proposed sentencing laws.
Step 2: CLICK HERE TO SIGN ON AS A SUPPORTER IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY
Step 3: Spread the Word
- Forward this email to your family members, friends, and colleagues and ask them to TAKE ACTION.
- Share your calls and the call-in information on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for all you’ve done already and for all you continue to do to make New Jersey fairer!
In faith and abiding hope,
Rev. Rob Gregson, Executive Director