“I would like to thank the State Assembly for joining with the State Senate and passing this critical criminal justice reform bill that will correct many of the disparities and unfair treatment that unfortunately exist in our state when it comes to how cases are prosecuted and justice is applied. Removing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenses does not mean lesser penalties for offenders, it means that the punishment will once again fit the crime and we will allow judges to exercise discretion and make the appropriate sentencing decision that each individual case demands. This is both an issue of civil rights and of fundamental fairness, and taking action to end mandatory minimum sentences is even a key plank of President Biden’s criminal justice reform agenda which incentivizes states to remove these draconian policies in order to become eligible for new federal funding.
“As criminal justice reform advocates have noted, these mandatory minimum sentences have led to minorities being incarcerated at higher rates for a variety of crimes, including for official misconduct and other charges involving public employment. I have opposed these unjust laws since their inception in our state, and along with Senator Scutari I was the only member of the State Senate who did not support them in 2007. It is unfortunate that some media outlets and commentators have overlooked this fact and instead made false allegations about my motivation for wanting to right these wrongs. It has never been more clear that these disparities need to end, and I am hopeful that Governor Murphy will listen to the criminal justice reform advocates who support this bill, as well as to a bipartisan majority of the state legislature, and sign these reforms into law.”