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Governor Murphy announces his support for allowing formerly incarcerated people to serve on juries

The proposal builds on the Governor's Second Chance Agenda

NEWARK – Governor Phil Murphy spoke at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice's 25th Anniversary Gala to discuss his administration's ongoing commitment to empowering communities of color across New Jersey. In his remarks, Governor Murphy highlighted his administration's progress in supporting individuals who previously served in the criminal justice system and publicly supported legislative efforts to restore the right to serve on juries to formerly incarcerated individuals. The bill is currently sponsored by Senator Raj Mukherji and Representative Verlina Reynolds-Jackson. Other major sponsors last session or this session include Senator Brian Stack, Senator Angela McKnight and Representatives Shanique Speight and Reginald Atkins.

Currently, approximately 500,000 New Jersey residents are banned from jury service for life, with this population disproportionately coming from communities of color. A number of other states, including Maine, Indiana, North Dakota and Washington, are restoring the right to serve on a jury after a person has completed their sentence.

“Today I am proud to publicly announce my support for legislation that will restore the right to serve on juries to more than half a million formerly incarcerated people in New Jersey.” said Governor Murphy. “Our government believes in second chances, and restoring these people’s right to fulfill a basic civic duty is not just about ending an injustice that continues to plague our formerly incarcerated neighbors; It is also about defending the integrity of our democracy, our criminal justice system and the rule of law. I thank the bill’s legislative sponsors for their leadership and look forward to working with them on this effort.”

“As we continue to expand our national leadership in criminal justice reform, I stand with Governor Murphy and support restoring the right of formerly incarcerated individuals to serve on a jury.” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way. “I am proud to have led our state to restore the right to vote for residents on probation or parole and am confident that this additional measure will strengthen our democracy, provide a broader perspective to juries in our state and better reflect our communities becomes.”

During the Murphy Administration, New Jersey cemented its reputation as one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the country and implemented several initiatives to assist formerly incarcerated individuals with reintegration.

In 2019, Governor Murphy signed two groundbreaking criminal justice reforms, establishing a petition process for the “groundless” expulsion of residents who have not committed a crime or been convicted of most serious crimes in a decade, and restoring the right to vote to over 80,000 residents on probation or parole.

Recognizing the barriers to finding stable housing for those with criminal records, Governor Murphy signed the Fair Chance in Housing Act in 2021, a groundbreaking law that prohibits landlords from asking about criminal history on housing applications in most cases. Today, the Attorney General's Office continues to monitor and take enforcement action against any housing provider found to have violated the law.

Following the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis sales in New Jersey, Governor Murphy has re-prioritized his commitment to a stronger, fairer and more diverse legal cannabis market. Through the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, social equity companies, diversely owned companies and impact zone companies are prioritized in the licensing process so that those most impacted by the War on Drugs and those convicted of related crimes can be considered convicted with marijuana have a chance of success in the booming cannabis market.

In fiscal year 2022, the New Jersey Department of Corrections launched the Locally Empowered, Accountable and Determined (NJLEAD) reentry grant program to support local nonprofits and communities to help formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate into society. NJLEAD continues to provide a coordinated and collaborative system of services to ensure continuity of care and treatment from prison to the community, including mental and physical health services, housing, employment and entrepreneurship.

To build New Jersey's reputation as a second chance state, Governor Murphy will announce a new clemency initiative in the coming months. The governor first shared his plans for the initiative in his 2024 State of the State address.

Anna Harden

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