Jim Johnson Releases “Justice for Jersey” Criminal Justice Reform Plan
NEWARK, NJ — Today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Johnson released his “Justice for Jersey” criminal justice plan. Last night, Cenk Uygur, host of the Young Turks news and commentary program, announced the plan on his nightly Youtube show. Uygur begins his segment discussing the Star-Ledger’s endorsement of Phil Murphy, challenges the Star-Ledger’s charge that Murphy did not buy the nomination, and questions how the $18 million spent by Murphy has influenced the race thus far. Uygur then goes on to describe Johnson’s criminal justice plan to make New Jersey’s criminal justice system smarter, stronger, and fairer.
“Growing up, I had a strong sense that the criminal justice system was not going to be fair to me or people that looked like me. It’s a big part of the reason why I became a prosecutor — to do my part to create fairness within an unequal system,” said Johnson. “Over the course of my career, I have fought to promote fair policing and to reform our criminal justice system, and I have brought law enforcement, communities, Democrats and Republicans together to do it. As Governor, I would bring that same dedication and experience to Trenton to make New Jersey a leader on criminal justice reform.”
“The War on Drugs was a concerted effort to devastate black and brown communities and silence those who disagreed with ‘law and order’ policies. New Jersey now faces an administration, led by Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that is attempting to create a Second War on Drugs. To ensure that our nation does not repeat its mistakes, I am committed to leading the charge against this dangerous ideology to bend the arc of our nation back towards justice,” continued Johnson.
As a former federal prosecutor and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, Jim Johnson has been fighting for justice his whole career. As Governor, Johnson would bring his lifelong passion for justice and his law enforcement experience to Trenton to make New Jersey a leader in criminal justice reform. As Governor, Johnson will:
Invest in Diversion and Early Intervention And Create Programs That Emphasize Treatment and Rehabilitation Over Incarceration: As Governor, Johnson would decriminalize substance addiction and mental illness. He would invest in a robust system of drug courts, a system that focuses on treatment and rehabilitation for drug offenders, rather than incarceration. He would also build on successful models like the Blue HART program here in New Jersey, which encourages drug users to turn in their narcotics in exchange for rehabilitation, with no threat of charges or jail.
Achieve Juvenile Justice By Closing Youth Prisons: The United States continues to rely on a model of incarceration for our youth that has never proven to benefit our children or our society. Because the concept of youth incarceration is so fundamentally flawed, Johnson would close the Hayes and Jamesburg Youth Prisons in New Jersey, which would also end the practice of youth solitary confinement. Johnson would use the funds from the juvenile prisons to invest in community-based programs that are proven to work and increase the use of “stationhouse adjustments.”
End Mandatory Minimums: In New Jersey, a staggering number of prisoners are serving mandatory minimum sentences. And now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to double down on mandatory minimums after the Obama Administration moved away from them in low-level drug offenses. New Jersey should be a leader is demonstrating the wrong-headedness of this policy. In order to truly create a just system, Johnson will end mandatory minimum sentences, ensuring that sentences are proportionate to the crime committed rather than based on an arbitrary minimum figure.
Focus On Re-Entry Programs: It is not enough to stop the damaging actions of the past, we must also work to repair the wounds that persist. As Governor, Johnson would focus on re-entry programs, which includes increasing access to education and vocational training while incarcerated, restoring the right to vote for all formerly incarcerated individuals, and increase counseling for mental illness and drug addiction.
Expedite Pardons And Increase Access to Expungement: As Governor, Johnson would make amends for the excesses of the War on Drugs by creating an expedited pardon system for nonviolent drug possession charges in New Jersey, similar to the program initiated by President Obama’s Justice Department. He would also move to increase access to expungement, so that those who have done their time and paid their debt to society are able to return to civilian life and apply for employment, housing and other necessities without the scarlet mark of a criminal conviction. This means increasing the scope of crimes that can be expunged and shortening the waiting time for expungement.
End The Stigma Around Drug Addiction: Drug addiction is not a crime, it is an illness. As Governor, Johnson would take strong steps to treat the public health crisis caused by drug addiction by investing in prevention and adopting best practices for treatment, including programs that allow substance abusers to turn themselves and their product in without fear.
Legalize Marijuana: As Governor, Johnson would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for persons 21 and older in the state of New Jersey to ensure that the country continues to make progress in rolling back the War on Drugs and ending policies that are counterproductive.
Read Johnson’s full plan here.