The state of New Jersey issued a new bill Wednesday. The bill called to extend voting rights to more than 80,000 residents who are on probation or parole.
Democratic Governor, Phil Murphy, said at the bill signing that morning. “I am proud to sign one of the most progressive expungement laws in the nation which will allow more New Jerseyans the opportunity to fully engage in our society…
Gov. Murphy’s policies focus on criminal and social justice by correcting racial discrimination, or what he calls his ‘second chance agenda’.
Another measure was presented and signed by Murphy. A new law that opens once closed doors for who can apply for criminal record expungements. The law also sets up an automatic expungement process for those convicted of less serious offenses and who have had a clean slate within the last 10 years. However, not everyone is in favor of the bill.
Republicans disapproved of the bill, saying that convicts have yet to pay their due to society.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey is now the 17th state, along with the District of Columbia that allows convicts out on probation or parole to vote. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow convicts to vote behind bars.
The governor says that both bills will correct criminal justice policies that inordinately affect people of color.
“We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that it was 400 years ago this year that the first enslaved Africans arrived on this continent,” he said, “When I took office 23 months ago, one of the highest priorities I brought with me was to undo the racial disparities in our criminal justice system.”
The new law will go into effect in March of 2020.
The New Jersey legislature voted earlier this week to put the question of recreational marijuana legalization to voters on the November 2020 ballot.
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