MEDIA ADVISORY – Lesniak And Cunningham To Hold News Conference On Criminal Justice Reform Monday

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Comprehensive Package Would Save Tax Dollars and Reduce Repeat Offenses

TRENTON – On Monday, Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Sandra Bolden Cunningham and criminal justice advocates will hold a news conference in the Statehouse to announce a comprehensive package of bills sponsored by the Senators to create a pathway to reform of New Jersey’s criminal justice system and rehabilitation for criminal offenders.

“We have to honest about our current criminal justice system – it just doesn’t work when it comes to stopping repeated criminal acts,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “The current system of incarceration and release from prison serves to breed more crime, while marginalizing offenders and denying them a second chance at being productive, law-abiding citizens. These four bills address the failings of the current criminal justice system, and will make our corrections budget smarter, so that we’re actually helping people make amends, turn the corner, and get on with their lives without going back, as is too often the case under our current policies.”

Last week, Senators Lesniak and Cunningham introduced a package of bills to address the parole and corrections systems in New Jersey. Among the bills that the Senators introduced are:

• S-907 – a bill which would require the State Parole Board to release offenders at the time of parole eligibility, unless the offender has committed a serious disciplinary infraction while incarcerated or has not participated in rehabilitation programs offered in prison;

• S-881 – a bill which amends the existing statute to give judges and prosecutors additional discretion to admit certain offenders into a “drug court” program to emphasize substance abuse treatment over incarceration;

• S-876 – a bill which amends the liquor licensing law to allow licensees to employ ex-offenders without a special permit. Currently, licensees have to get the permission of the State to employ ex-offenders;

• S-878 – a bill which would prohibit public and private employers from automatically disqualifying ex-offenders from employment.

The bill sponsors said that package of bills is designed to encourage drug treatment and rehabilitation and remove counterproductive barriers to employment of ex-offenders.

Supporting these bills are (partial list): Integrity House; The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence; The Drug Policy Alliance; The NJ Association on Correction; Union County Prosecutor Ted Romankow; Judge Barnett Hoffman, former Chair, NJ Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing and President, Middlesex County Adult Substance Abuse Program; Pastor Keith Davis, Camden Dream Center; and Pastor Steffie Bartley New Hope Memorial Baptist Church, Elizabeth.

The news conference will be held in Statehouse room 103, across from the Senate Chambers at 11:00 A.M. on Monday morning.

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