At Tonight’s NAACP-NJISJ Forum at NJPAC, Jim Johnson Calls for Real Change to New Jersey’s Criminal Justice System
NEWARK — Over decades, the levels of unnecessary incarceration in our country have skyrocketed — exacerbating racial disparities, increasing inequality, and hindering the economic growth of communities throughout New Jersey. According to the Sentencing Project, New Jersey incarcerates African Americans at 12 times the rate of white residents — the highest disparity between black and white incarceration rates of any state in the nation. This gap is even more stark when it comes to our children — in New Jersey, black kids are 24.3 times more likely to be committed to a secure juvenile facility than their white counterparts.
Growing up, Jim had a strong sense that the criminal justice system was not going to be fair to him or people that looked like him — it’s a big part of the reason why he became a prosecutor. Over the course of his career, Jim has fought to promote fair policing and to reform our criminal justice system by reducing mass incarceration and crime. As Governor, Johnson would bring his passion for justice and his law enforcement experience to Trenton to make New Jersey’s criminal justice system smarter, stronger, and fairer.
As a founding member of the group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, Jim brought together Republicans and Democrats in law enforcement to advocate for changes to our criminal justice system, including ending the use of mandatory minimums, restoring balance to criminal sentencing, strengthening community policing and increasing alternatives to incarceration through early intervention and prioritizing mental health and drug treatment.
Following the death of Eric Garner, Jim launched New Jersey Communities Forward as a new way to engage everyday citizens around the issue of criminal justice reform. He brought together leaders from law enforcement and the community to engage in discussions around fair and effective policing in urban neighborhoods. Together, they laid the foundation for New Jersey to become one of the first states with a statewide body camera policy.
Jim believes that New Jersey can become a nationwide leader in creating a smarter, stronger, and fairer criminal justice system. As Governor, Jim will enact sentencing reform, end mandatory minimums and fund diversionary programs that offer alternatives to prison, especially for youth and young adults, and reintegration programs, so incarcerated individuals can successfully transition back into their communities. To ensure that corporations stop profiting off of imprisonment, Jim will ban private prisons in New Jersey. Jim has also pledged to legalize marijuana in a safe and regulated manner, which will keep nonviolent people out of the criminal justice system.