N.J. may look at racial impact of all new rules on criminal sentencing

 (AP FILE Photo/Steve Ruark)

(AP FILE Photo/Steve Ruark)

New Jersey may seek a legislative solution to minimize institutional racism in sentencing. 

A measure in the New Jersey Senate would require all future bills and regulations on sentencing to include a racial and ethnic impact statement outlining how the policies might affect minority populations.

Dianna Houenou with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said it’s a smart policy to implement.

“From the moment that people both young and old are introduced to our criminal justice system we find disparities among racial and ethnic lines even though our laws are written to be race neutral.”

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly said black people are 15 percent of the general population in New Jersey but 60 percent of the prison population largely because of what he said is a misguided war on drugs.

“If you were locked up for a minor offense for many years, I don’t think they would argue that this is something that is long overdue on our part. It is something that we have to address.”

Assemblyman Joe Danielsen wondered if the state has the resources to implement it.

“Who’s going to survey an entire state of 9 million people to figure out the impact? Impact to who? Black people, Asian, white people. That might take ten years.”

Danielsen said more staffing may be needed.

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