[L]awyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.
Justice Hugo Black, Gideon v. Wainwright
The rights guaranteed to the accused, defendants, offenders and prisoners are fundamental political rights that protect all Americans from governmental abuse of power. These rights include the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to reasonable bail, the right to due process of law and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. They are indispensable to a free society.
- February 19, 2021 Following Committee Vote on Clean-up Bill, ACLU-NJ Pushes for Cannabis Legalization and Decriminalization to Go Into Law
- January 12, 2021 State of the State Response: 2021 Will Build on Civil Rights Expansions of 2020
- January 7, 2021 ‘Cleanup’ Bill Gets NJ Closer to Legalization and Decriminalization of Cannabis, with Some Changes to Consequences for Youth
- December 17, 2020 New Jersey Legislature Passes Historic Bills to Implement Cannabis Legalization and Decriminalize Cannabis
- December 14, 2020 Legalization Bill Approved in Senate Committee Makes Strides Toward Community Reinvestment, But Additional Equity Measures Still Sought
- November 19, 2020 Different Versions of Legalization Bills Move Forward with Some Strengthened Racial and Social Equity Provisions
- November 9, 2020 Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana Must Advance Swiftly, and Legislation to Implement Marijuana Legalization in NJ Must Center Racial and Social Justice, ACLU-NJ Says
- November 4, 2020 Groundbreaking Public Health Credit Law Goes Into Effect, Releasing People Near End of Prison Sentences to Reduce COVID-19 Exposure for Thousands in NJ
- November 3, 2020 ‘Yes’ Vote Legalizes Cannabis – Next Step Will Be Centering Racial Justice in Implementation
- August 27, 2020 Senate Passes Pandemic Credit Bill to Release People Nearing End of Prison Sentences
- State v. Hokum Brown
Amicus brief arguing that defendants, who were sentenced for underlying sex offenses when failure to register under Megan’s Law was a fourth-degree offense, cannot subsequently be charged with third-degree failure to register under the 2007 amendment to Megan’s Law.
- State v. Zakariyya Ahmad
Amicus brief that addresses whether a defendant was in custody for the purposes of Miranda v. Arizona?
- State v. Romero
Amicus brief addressing whether the practical availability of parole should be considered when evaluating whether a sentence is the functional equivalent of life without parole.
- State v. Paden-Battle
Amicus brief addressing whether a sentencing judge may consider a defendant’s conduct where the jury acquitted defendant of the underlying crime?
- State v. Malique
Defense of a person improperly arrested for filming police effectuating another arrest.
- State v. Maisonet
Amicus brief challenging the court’s decision to deny defendant’s request for an adjournment to hire counsel of choice, where the court did not consider the necessary factors in making the decision.
- State v. Lodzinski
Amicus brief addressing whether courts, in considering the sufficiency of the evidence, must look at evidence put forth by the defendant.
- State v. Edgar Torres
Amicus brief that asks how courts must consider sentences of people who are already sentenced to long prison terms.
- State v. Dangcil
Amicus brief in a challenge to the new jury selection procedures set up as a result of COVID-19
- State v. Damon Williams
Amicus brief addressing whether a prosecutor’s use of a still photograph from the movie The Shining constituted prosecutorial misconduct requiring reversal of defendant’s conviction.
- Marijuana Legalization
Legalizes possession and personal use of small amounts of Marijuana for persons age 21 and over.
- Medical Parole Expansion
Expands eligibility of medical parole to prisoners determined to be permanently incapable for performing basic daily functions of life and in need of 24-hour medical attention; creates presumption of release; requires medical parolees be provided assistance in applying for Medicaid upon release; requires Parole board to collect data on medical parole grants and denials.
- Expungement Reform
Reduces waiting period for eligibility for expungement of certain offenses; provides for automatic expungement of charges that did not result in conviction, as well as successful drug court graduates; expands eligibility of multiple offense expungement to one indictable offense and two disorderly persons offenses.
- Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform
Raises the minimum age for waivers from 14 to 15; eliminates some less serious crimes from the list of offenses subject to waiver; creates presumption that waived juveniles remain housed with juveniles until age 21; provides right to counsel and enhances due process protections before juveniles can be transferred from juvenile detention centers to adult prisons; eliminates use of solitary confinement except to protect health, safety, or the operation of a facility; mandates data collection and public reporting regarding the use of waiver and solitary confinement.
- Ending Overuse of Solitary Confinement
Prohibits Department of Corrections from housing in solitary confinement people under 22, people with mental illnesses, people with developmental disabilities, and other vulnerable populations. Limits, except in emergency situations, the use of solitary confinement for other prisoners to 15 consecutive days or 20 days in any 60 day period. Mandates data collection regarding the use of solitary confinement.
- Limits on Militarization of Police – Local Approval
Requires local unit approval of applications for participation in federal 1033 program.
- Limits on Militarization of Police – AG Oversight and Reporting
equires AG oversight of transfer of federal surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies; establishes review and reporting requirement.
- DNA Collection for Low-Level Offenses
Requires law enforcement to collect DNA samples from adults and juveniles convicted of certain non-criminal disorderly person offenses, including shoplifting and marijuana possession. This type of expansive collection will lead to massive government databases of New Jerseyans’ DNA, raising enormous privacy and due process concerns.
- Ban the Box
Prohibits large employers in most fields from conducting a criminal history inquiry of a job applicant until after a first interview
- Bail System Reform
Moves New Jersey’s bail system to a risk-based one and away from a wealth-based system that results in thousands of people facing long pre-trial jail sentences due to inability to afford bail. A system based on actual risk to the community—not ability to pay—better protects public safety, reduces jail overcrowding, keeps families together, and saves taxpayer resources.
- Marijuana Arrests in New Jersey (100kb PDF) (2013)
- Corzine on My Mind (2009)
- ACLU-NJ Urges AG to Revisit Flawed Directive (2007)
- AG's Guidance Needed On Cops and Immigrants (2007)
- Why Sex Offender Laws Do More Harm Than Good (2006)
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