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Urban News Staff Reports

Three pieces of legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy make various reforms to New Jersey’s criminal justice system. The bills ensure personnel files of law enforcement officers are shared when applying for employment at other agencies, accelerate juvenile justice reforms, and expand critical re-entry benefits.

“I’ve been clear that New Jersey will be as aggressive as any state in the nation in our efforts to reform a criminal justice system that has largely failed our Black and Brown communities for far too long,” said Governor Murphy. “Among other important changes, these measures promote a greater degree of professionalism in law enforcement hiring practices and ensure that young people and formerly incarcerated individuals who are re-entering society are provided with a meaningful chance to reach their full potential.”

The bills signed into law include requiring law enforcement agencies to provide internal affairs and personnel files of law enforcement officers to other agencies under certain circumstances, accelerating the rescinding of certain juvenile delinquency fines and making discretionary post-incarceration supervision due to COVID-19 pandemic and assisting inmates released from incarceration in obtaining necessary re-entry benefits.

“To strengthen the view of police as a force for good in the community, policies requiring disciplinary histories to be shared must be status quo,” said Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly. “Most officers spend their entire career acting honorably, but to maintain accountability, policy has to acknowledge the potential for bad actors to exist.”

State Sen. Shirley Turner said Police officers have the lives of our state’s most vulnerable in their hands and the bills can help strength the public’s trust in law enforcement.

“It is incredibly important we are thoroughly vetting any individual bestowed with that badge, and in turn, the power that comes with it,” she said. “This legislation will create greater oversight, transparency and accountability to prevent departments from hiring bad actors.”

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson said everything should be done to keep youth in the criminal justice system safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

“Thankfully, the mechanisms to keep children out of detention facilities and prioritize community-based programming were already in motion,” she said. “Under this legislation, these reforms will now only be implemented much faster.”

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