Those In Prison and Jail Are Last, So They Shall Be First

Solitary Confinement should not be a tool used by prisons or jails.  It serves no rational purpose for discipline, protection or any other reason and must cease.  The bills that were introduced by Senator Lesniak and Assemblywoman Pinkin, that passed both the Senate and Assembly, should be signed into law by Governor Christie.  If he will not sign it, I will sign it—or I’ll work to support an even stronger bill.

The Office of the Public Advocate should be reopened and prepared to receive grievances from inmates, their families, and human rights advocates.

Meaningful reform must take place to ensure Black and Latino children are not disproportionately waived to the adult system. 

Meaningful re-entry services should begin in earnest on the day of entry into prison/jail.  Prison serves as a tool of correction, which means it should also be a launch pad for meaningful opportunities to live a better, safer life. 

Minimum wage jobs (or better) should start during a prison sentence.  Currently those who are serving time are paid slave-wages.  Especially with the racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system the resemblance of people working for virtually no pay, at the expense of rich owners, or the state, brings back haunting memories.  No prison system should present opportunities for market investment or economic growth. 

Exorbitant commissary and phone card prices in jail and prison must cease. 

Meaningful support for children with an incarcerated parent needs to be implemented.  When a parent is incarcerated it impacts the life of his or her children.  An imprisoned parent should still be able to do paid work, inside, that results in child support for children on the outside. 

All citizens should be able to vote.  A felony conviction should not limit this right.  In a state where the racial injustice in our criminal justice system is so clearly documented we should not allow the state to suppress voters from the polls because of felony convictions.  New Jersey’s racial disparity in State Prisons is the worst of all 50 states.  Prisoners should have a say in who leads the government, and a voice in policymaking, just like everyone else.  This is the case in Maine and Vermont and my Administration would push for this in New Jersey as well. 

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