NJ Spotlight reports:
The first civil rights legislation to reach Phil Murphy’s desk once he becomes governor may be a bill that will give convicted felons the right to vote, whether they are on parole, probation, or in prison. As it stands now, only those who complete the terms of their probation are allowed to register to vote. That amounts to over 94,300 people in the state, according to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
“We’re silencing a significant segment of the population. In 2016, a little over five percent of New Jersey’s Black, voting age population was denied the right to vote,” said Scott Novakowski, the report’s author and associate counsel for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
One reason is that in New Jersey, Black adults are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.
NJ 101.5 reports:
Novakowski pointed out New Jersey leads the nation in having the highest racial disparities in Black vs. white incarceration rates among adults and youth.
“A Black adult is 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white adult, and a Black youth is staggeringly 30 times more likely to be detained or committed than their white peer.”
He stated “a significant proportion of these disparities cannot be explained by differing rates of offending.”
“By continuing to link the fundamental right to vote with involvement in the criminal justice system, New Jersey’s law ensures that these disparities are reproduced within our electorate.”
North Jersey resident Ronald Pierce is on parole after his criminal conviction and is not allowed to vote. He says voting can be an effective part of rehabilitation for people who are incarcerated.
“When a person engages in meaningful dialogue about civic concerns, it opens them up to seeing beyond their personal needs and shifts their focus to issues that affect the community.”
A recent report from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice found that New Jersey currently prohibits 94,000 individuals from voting due to criminal history or incarceration. The report found that a disproportionate amount of those disenfranchised by the voting law are African American. In New Jersey, about 15 percent of the total population is black but about 50 percent of those currently incarcerated in the state are Black…
“I believe we have a governor who understands civil rights, I really believe that,” Rice said of Murphy. “This is going to be our civil rights governor. But we have to get it to his desk.”
CBS Philly reports:
New Jersey’s voting ban on those incarcerated or on probation and parole dates back to 1844. A study conducted by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice concludes decades of racial inequality in the criminal justice system have resulted in blacks 12 times more likely to be jailed than whites, and therefore denied the right to vote.
“We have to erase this moral stain on our democracy by ending New Jersey’s practice of denying voting rights based on criminal convictions,” Institute President Ryan Haygood told KYW Newsradio, “and restoring the right to vote to nearly 100,000 people who are either on probation, parole or in prison.”
92.7 WOBM reports:
“Despite being only about 15 percent of the state’s population, black people make up about half of those denied the right to vote because of a criminal conviction,” said Scott Novakowski, an associate counsel with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the author of the report.
“This is a direct result of importing the racial disparities of the criminal justice system into the electorate.”
He noted it was back in 1844 when New Jersey broadly denied the right to vote based on a criminal conviction.
“This report provides an important historical context of the history of New Jersey’s law that denies people with criminal convictions the right to vote, but it also looks at the impact of this law,” he said.
“Despite being only about 15 percent of the state’s population, Black people make up around half of those denied the right to vote because of a criminal conviction,” Novakowski said. “This is a direct result of importing the racial disparities of the criminal justice system into the electorate.”
They were joined on a conference call by others from the ACLU and other organizations, as well as state legislators who plan to introduce a bill to change the law, although they concede past efforts have not succeeded. This time, though, they point to Governor-elect Phil Murphy, who they expect to support such a plan.