Boyer: New NJ Law Against Isolated Confinement a Victory

By Rev. Charles Boyer

I am extremely encouraged by Governor Murphy’s historic move to restrict the use of isolated confinement in New Jersey’s prisons. This is one of the most compassionate, progressive, and morally just solitary laws in the nation.

Faith communities in New Jersey have campaigned tirelessly over the past seven years in support of the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act. Hundreds of houses of worship and faith leaders have expressed support for restricting the use of isolated confinement. Our communities witness first-hand the condition of men and women returning home, sometimes straight from isolation cells to our neighborhoods and houses of worship. Far too often survivors are less capable of meaningful engagement in society because of the senseless trauma they have endured. 

We stood together with moral clarity to denounce the disproportionate impact of isolation on communities of color, especially mindful that New Jersey is ranked worst in the nation for racial disparity in incarceration. 

Survivors, medical and mental health experts, people of faith, legislators, legal advocacy groups, concerned citizens and formerly incarcerated people and their families stood united in support for an end to long-term isolation. 

Former Governor Christie vetoed and denied that solitary even existed. I am grateful that Governor Murphy not only acknowledged its existence but did something about it. We look forward to New Jersey moving toward a more humane, just, trauma informed system of custody by greatly restricting the use of isolated confinement. 

This victory belongs to you and shows how powerful survivors, faith leaders, and advocates, are when we collective stay on the wall and wait on the Lord!

Rev. Boyer is pastor of Bethel Woodbury AME Church and director of Salvation and Social Justice

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