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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Ronald L. Rice to create the New Jersey Commission on Urban Violence to study the sources and causes of urban violence and to recommend to the Governor and Legislature methods to address them was approved today by the Senate.

“Crime continues to be carried out in communities across the state every day. The sheer fact is that unless we get to the root of the problems that fuel violence in our urban areas, we will not see a reduction in these kinds of crimes over the long term,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer and Hunterdon). “This commission will bring together representatives of local government, law enforcement, clergy and other groups to analyze the issues that are contributing to the cycle of violent crime and death in our communities and make recommendations for addressing them in a meaningful way.”

“New Jersey’s urban areas continue to be plagued by violence. We continue to see children shot, carjackings and murders taking place,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex), who also serves as Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. “We have to put a stop to the senseless violence that is being carried out in our communities, but we will only do that by understanding and addressing the underlying social and economic problems that are at the core of this problem.”

The legislators’ bill (SJR-38) would establish the “New Jersey State Commission on Urban Violence” to study the sources and causes of violence in New Jersey. The 44-member commission would consist of representatives from a broad spectrum of state and local officers and officials, law enforcement, professional organizations, academics, labor, and faith-based and church-centered associations. It would file two interim reports with the Governor and the Legislature to details its process – at the sixth and twelfth month following its organization – and a final report within 18 months.

Modeled after the charge given to the so-called Kerner Commission, formed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 to study the sources and causes of the violence and disorder that ravaged America’s cities, including Newark, the panel will assess the invasive impact the violence is having on individuals, families and communities, and recommend action to address and alleviate the sources and causes.

The bill was approved by a vote of 32-0.  It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.