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December 1, 2005

Important work on drug sentencing in New Jersey

As detailed in this Newark Star-Ledger article and this AP follow-up, the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing is about to produce an important report with powerful recommendations urging reforms to the state's drug sentencing laws.  Here are some highlights:

A blue-ribbon commission that reviewed the state's criminal sentencing laws will recommend next week that New Jersey reduce the size of drug- free school zones and eliminate mandatory minimum prison terms, Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown said yesterday....

The issue of drug-free zones has been the subject of heated debate for decades.  Supporters of the current laws say they are designed to keep children from being offered drugs as they walk to school. Critics say they have been used disproportionately against minorities in urban areas, where the combination of drug-free zones can blanket an entire municipality and guarantee anyone arrested for dealing drugs does a long stretch in prison....

The recommendation to reduce the size of the drug-free zones is aimed at preserving the Legislature's intent to keep kids safe from drugs while giving judges more discretion in crafting sentences, according to one of the sources.

My understanding is that the report from the NJ Commission will be released next week, and the AP story spotlights that "Ben Barlyn, the commission's executive director, said yesterday that the report would provide a wealth of data to back up the recommendations."  Based on these press accounts, I am hopeful the New Jersey report will be an example of the power of data and sound policy-making over political rhetoric, and also an example of the important work that expert sentencing commissions can do to address and help transform problematic sentencing issues.

December 1, 2005 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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old jersey has a lot of people in prison 4 years 4 10k puff

Posted by: | Feb 15, 2007 5:49:34 PM

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