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Invoking John Lewis, N.J. lawmakers pass policing and prison reforms

Blake Nelson | July 30, 2020 | NJ Advance Media |

New Jersey lawmakers passed bills Thursday that would change how residents are policed, sentenced and treated after they’re released from prison, part of a wave of reforms gaining traction as protests against police brutality and systemic racism continue nationwide.

The votes took place the same day as the funeral for civil rights icon John Lewis, and state legislators invoked his name when discussing why some of the bills are needed.

After a bill was introduced criminalizing calling 911 to threaten somebody because of their race, state Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, referenced Lewis’ last essay and said, “we have a right, an obligation, to move this type of legislation.”

That proposal (A1906) passed unanimously, 40-0, and now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy for final approval.

“The stakes are too high to wait any longer and the sustained protests around the country have made it clear that the time for change is now,” state Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Lawrence, said in a statement.


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