AC JosepH Media
NEWARK â€“ Woodbury’s Rev. Charles Boyer, the NAACP and the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice Wednesday praised Gov. Phil Murphy for signing two laws that will greatly help those with criminal records, many of them people of color, successfully re-enter society.
Murphy signed Bill S4154, that creates a petition process for â€œclean slateâ€ expungement for residents who have not committed an offense in ten years and who have not been convicted of the most serious crimes.
The bill also requires that low-level marijuana convictions be sealed upon the disposition of a case, preventing those convictions from being used against those individuals in the future.
He also signed A5823, which restores voting rights to New Jersey residents on probation or parole. Similar laws are in effect in 16 other states, including Indiana, Montana, and Utah.
In statements released by the Murphy’s office, many African-American leaders praised the signings.
“On this historic day, New Jersey has lifted my colleague Ron Pierce â€“ a veteran, husband and college graduate â€“ and 83,000 ghosts of democracy out of the shadows so that they can finally be seen, heard, and represented,” said Ryan P. Haygood, president and chief executive of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
“Two years after we and our partners launched the 1844 No More campaign â€” named for the year New Jersey denied the vote to people with convictions and restricted voting to white men in its Constitution â€” New Jersey has taken an important step in becoming 1844 no more. This is what it looks like to build an inclusive democracy, from the ground up, in this difficult national moment. We thank the Legislature and Governor Murphy for taking this bold action,” Haywood continued.
Boyer, founder of the rights organization Salvation & Social Justice and pastor at Bethel AME Woodbury said the passage of the bill will enable thousands to provide for their families and fulfill their dream to become productive member of society.
“Today, thousands of New Jersey’s returning citizens are being enfranchised and given a clean slate,” Boyer said. “That’s what justice looks like. I salute the impacted, the advocates, the faith community, Governor Murphy and the Legislature for embracing the humanity of our sisters and brothers coming home.”
Safeer Quraishi, administrative director of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, said the new laws will help bring people out of the shadows of society.
“People who over the long haul of the years have been deemed invisible and marginalized have been made visible again by way of the work done by civil rights advocates and social justice minded legislators,” Quraishi said.
“Those who have been silenced and disenfranchised for far too long are beginning to get their voices back, and we look forward to the governor signing this bill and playing his part in this movement. The right to vote is just that – a right, and we commend all of those who helped us throughout this fight,” Quraishi continued.
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