With the burden of certain juvenile delinquency fines exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory post-incarceration supervision posing undue health and safety risk, legislation (A-4331) to accelerate the effective date of certain provisions of law (P.L.2019, c.363) enacted on January 20, 2020 was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday.
Under the new law, provisions of previously enacted law concerning the elimination of certain court-imposed fines and mandatory assessments, and imposition of discretionary rather than mandatory post-incarceration supervision, will take effect immediately.
The bill’s sponsor issued the following statements:
Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Bergen Passaic): “Right now, those going through our justice system face particular vulnerability and risk of contracting COVID-19. This fact is no different for our youth who are in custody or under supervision, and often in detention for minor, non-violent infractions.
“To put the safety of our children first it is therefore critical to speed up the implementation of policies intending to protect against harsh juvenile sentencing, and to ensure greater priority for community-based rehabilitation and reintegration exists.
“Not only is it about health and safety, but it’s also about justice.”
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Hunterdon, Mercer): “We have to do everything in our power to curb the spread of COVID-19, especially among youth in the juvenile system who are at greater risk because of their physical circumstances. Thankfully, the mechanisms to keep children out of detention facilities and prioritize community-based programming were already in motion. Under this legislation, these reforms will now only be implemented much faster.”
The bill, now law, was passed 46-25-2 by the Assembly and 28-10 by the Senate.