Gov. Murphy signs executive order to launch historic clemency program in New Jersey

ByPhil Taitt WABC logo
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
NJ Gov. Murphy launches historic clemency program on Juneteenth
Anthony Johnson has details on Gov. Murphy's clemency executive order.

NEWARK (WABC) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated Juneteenth by signing an executive order Wednesday morning to roll out a new clemency program.

For New Jersey residents, the new program could wipe thousands of people's criminal records totally clean.

The program is being called a major milestone to provide relief for thousands who have been unfairly treated by the criminal justice system.

The governor is moving to create a clemency board to bring a fairer and thoughtful approach to criminal justice. He says the system has been unfair to people of color for far too long and justice has been denied for too many.

Murphy says the new order for clemency will be fairer, equitable and more accessible.

"We are looking for individuals who have been rehabilitated, or who could be giving back to their communities but are instead being unjustly held back by our criminal justice system," Murphy said.

Some of those who can benefit include victims of domestic violence, including women who suffered and took on their attackers but were given long prison sentences for retaliating.

It will also provide relief for those who went to jail for long terms during the height of the drug war or those who took their cases to court and lost, but were given excessive jail time because they went to trial.

The announcement at the St. James AME Church brought out a packed house featuring rapper Meek Mill, who had a run-in with the legal system.

"These issues right now are catered to Black and Brown, but anyone caught in the system in those situations, you could be any color and it affects us the most, so I would say thank you governor to being involved in something that brightens our future," Meek Mill said.

Murphy says the move to fix a broken criminal justice system will also ensure justice for all.

"As we celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on our nation's ongoing journey toward racial justice for Black and Brown Americans, I am proud to sign this Executive Order to help address inequities and unfairness in our system of justice in New Jersey," Murphy said. "This new clemency initiative is a cornerstone of our Administration's efforts to make New Jersey the State of Second Chances. Today, we pledge to take a responsible and equity-driven approach to pardons and commutations that will prioritize the most compelling cases."

Any resident can determine if they are eligible for clemency by visiting the New Jersey state website.

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