Following Governor Murphy's State of the State address, which emphasized an agenda to protect civil rights and liberties, the ACLU-NJ called for action on key priorities to improve lives and end injustices in New Jersey. The ACLU-NJ plans to work with the Murphy administration and the Legislature to ensure that a bold progressive agenda takes shape in our state.
Specifically, the ACLU-NJ called for marijuana legalization, a standard basic driver's licenses that protects the rights and privacy of New Jerseyans, independent prosecutors when someone dies during a police encounter, and restoration of the right to vote for people who are on probation, on parole, or incarcerated.
ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha made the following statements:
On the State of the State:
"As Governor Murphy looks to the accomplishments within reach in the year ahead, we look forward to collaborating with the governor, his administration, and members of the Legislature to achieve our common goals of expanding civil rights and liberties and building a better, freer New Jersey for everyone."
"We need marijuana legalization that places racial justice front and center, and Governor Murphy's emphasis on that point today is important. Even more important than legalizing marijuana is legalizing marijuana the right way. New Jersey needs marijuana prohibition and the injustices it perpetuates to end as swiftly as possible."
"To truly move beyond the civil rights catastrophe of the drug war, New Jersey needs: comprehensive expungements, reinvestment in communities hit hardest by aggressive marijuana enforcement, home-grow provisions for personal use, and programs to build a diverse, inclusive industry open to all communities, especially for those who have been disproportionately impacted."
"Every New Jerseyan needs to have the choice of a basic standard license that doesn't trap people in the invasive federal Real ID Act, as a matter of privacy and a matter of civil rights. It's important for New Jersey to stand up for vulnerable communities who don't have access to their identity because of the difficulty they have in getting a license."
"The death of Meek Lowery in Paterson gives a stark illustration of the urgent need for independent investigations and prosecutions when someone dies during a police encounter or while in custody. It's impossible for the public to fully trust an investigation led by the same prosecutors who work day-in, day-out with the officers they're charged with investigating. This legislation is just as urgent as the other policies the governor addressed today, and arguably even more so than some."
Restoration of the right to vote for people with convictions:
"Voting is a fundamental right, but for anyone on parole, probation, or imprisoned, it's a right that is systematically denied. The extreme racial bias of our criminal justice system, from arrests to parole rates, has resulted in people of color being stripped of their right to vote en masse. We need to give meaning to democracy by restoring the right to vote and by never taking it away in the future."