[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.
- 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
- August 24, 2020 ACLU-NJ Statement in Response to Budget Address
- May 26, 2020 Arguments in NJ Supreme Court Wednesday Calling for Process for Release of People in Prison
- April 10, 2020 ACLU-NJ Statement on Gov. Murphy’s Announced First Step to Lower Prison Population
- April 1, 2020 In Response to ACLU-NJ Lawsuit, ICE Releases Two People from Detention
- March 23, 2020 NJ Order to Release People in County Jails Breaks New Ground in COVID-19 Pandemic
- State v. Mark Melvin
Amicus brief addressing whether a sentencing judge may consider a defendant’s conduct where the jury acquitted defendant of the underlying crime?
- State v. Olenowski
Amicus brief addressing the scientific reliability of Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) testimony.
- State v. Newsome
Direct representation of activist arrested while leading a march on January 11, 2019.
- State v. Zarate
Amicus brief addressing sentencing of 14 year old convicted of murder.
- State v. Molchor, State v. Rios
Amicus brief addressing whether under the Criminal Justice Reform Act, a defendant’s immigration status can form the basis for the court’s pretrial detention decision?
- State v. Roman-Rosado
This case examines how low level traffic stops can become abused tools used by police officers to justify arbitrary and discriminatory invasions into the privacy rights of New Jerseyans.
- ACLU-NJ v. NJ County Prosecutors’ Association
Challenge to CPANJ's records request denial
- Wragg, et al. v. Ortiz, et al.
Federal habeas class action on behalf of people confined at FCI Fort Dix who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
- State v. Alessi
Amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of detaining without probable cause people suspected of past completed crimes.
- State v. Hyman
Amicus brief arguing that evidence of drug dealing away from a person’s home is insufficient to justify a search of the home.
- 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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