TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice and Senator Shirley K. Turner that would establish the “New Jersey State Commission on Urban Violence” to study the sources and causes of violence in New Jersey’s urban areas advanced out of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.
“By gathering a broad consortium of leadership and pooling its members’ expertise and insight, we envision that this commission will have as much an impact on our state as President Johnson’s Kerner Commission had on alleviating the causes of civil disobedience that ravaged our nation in the late Sixties,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Violent crime is not an omnipotent phantom force in our state. It is examinable, dissectible and disarmable. The findings of this commission will direct us to construct the societal structures needed to empower our poor to raise themselves up without engaging in violent crime.
“New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, and yet our economic stature can be overshadowed by the prevalence of violence in pockets of our urban communities where violent crime rates, although improving, still surpass national averages,” said Senator Turner (D-Huterdon/Mercer). “With this commission, we’re going to drill down to the root causes of violence in poor neighborhoods. We are going to implement change. And we’re going to transform our state – life by life, city by city.”
The joint resolution, SJR-51, would direct the Commission to submit two detailed interim progress reports to the governor and the Legislature, at six and twelve months after its launch. It would require the commission to complete its study and file its final report within 18 months and propose recommendations to address and alleviate the sources and causes of urban violence so as to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of the children and families living in those communities.
The resolution would charge the Commission to include 44 ex officio members in key positions of government and legislation, education, human services, law, public safety, minority, labor union and faith-based organizations. Eleven members of the Commission would constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting its official business.
The joint resolution passed out of committee by a vote of 5-0 and advances to the full Senate for further consideration.