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Assembly Approves Speight, Reynolds-Jackson Measure Establishing Task Force on Racial Bias in State Criminal Justice System

Creating a task force to study the presence of racial bias within the State’s criminal justice system, a resolution (AJR-172) sponsored by Assemblywomen Shanique Speight (D-Essex) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) was approved by the Assembly on Thursday, 74-0-3.

Under the bill, the task force will examine current data, research, and policies related to racial bias and racial disparities within the State’s law enforcement, courts, and correctional system; identify effective strategies to reduce the presence of racial bias within the criminal justice system and; develop recommendations to implement those strategies.  Within a year, the task force will submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature of its findings and recommendations.

The sponsors issued the following statement on the bill:

 “We find ourselves at the crossroads of equality and justice in this country. With Black and Brown citizens disproportionately imprisoned, unemployed, economically disadvantaged and losing their lives to police shootings, we have to figure out how to put an end to systematic inequality in this country. It begins with understanding when and where racial bias and racial disparities come into play within our criminal justice system. Only then can we begin to directly address inequality and injustice.”

The task force will consist of 17 members with representation from the General Assembly, the Senate, the Attorney General, the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the New Jersey Prosecutors Association, the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Commissioner of Corrections, the Public Defender, communities and community-based advocacy groups that reflect the diversity of the State.