ACLU-NJ: Legislators, Don’t Leave Unfinished Business – Pass Key Social Justice Bills in Lame Duck

November 6, 2019

With Election Day over, and the lame session officially here, advocates with the ACLU of New Jersey hope to send a message to the New Jersey Legislature: Don’t end this session with unfinished business.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo:

Lame Duck – We Cannot Leave Unfinished Business:
“The Legislature has a duty to pass three measures that are among the most important votes they’ll ever cast. They have a responsibility to New Jerseyans to legalize adult-use marijuana, expand access to driver’s licenses, and restore the right to vote for people who are on probation, on parole, or incarcerated.

“Our lawmakers have the power to begin righting the wrongs of the drug war, to help people live their lives with mobility and security, and to truly fulfill the values of democracy and redemption.”

Legalization of Marijuana for Adult Use:
“Every day, New Jersey makes more than 100 arrests for a marijuana-related offense – that’s one arrest made every 14 minutes. Those arrests are for something that most New Jerseyans believe should be legal, and many law enforcement officers believe is a waste of their time. Legalization, and legislation through legislation that focuses on racial and social justice, is the only path to end the destructive legacy of prohibition. Lawmakers cannot end the session with this lingering as unfinished business."

Expanding Eligibility for Driver’s Licenses:
“Tens of thousands of New Jerseyans cannot take their children to school, participate in their community, or live their lives freely for one simple reason: they have no way to get a driver’s license. New Jersey is a state where we identify ourselves by highway exit – you need a car here. We can increase public safety, lower insurance rates, and boost the economy for everyone by expanding eligibility for driver’s licenses. Lawmakers: do not leave the business of expanding access to licenses unfinished.”

Ending Disenfranchisement Based on Convictions:
“In a democracy, we don’t strip away citizenship as a result of a mistake, and we should not strip away the most important duty of citizenship. Some rights are too important to ever take away, and voting is one of them. People should never lose the right to vote, whether on probation, on parole, or in the correctional system.

“The first laws stripping away the right to vote based on criminal convictions sprung up in the Jim Crow era – and today, the people who lose the right to vote because of a biased criminal justice system are disproportionately people of color. We cannot leave unfinished the business of ending a system of disenfranchisement that carries the stain of a biased criminal justice system.”

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