One Simple Thing You Can Do This Weekend to End Racial Disparity in NJ’s Criminal Justice System

[UPDATE, 7/24/17: This bill is still stuck in committee. Stay tuned for next steps.]


Next Monday at 10 am, the state Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on bill S3195, which would legalize marijuana for adults. Currently, black New Jerseyans are 3 times as likely to be arrested for possession as white New Jerseyans. Passing S3195 would help reduce this racial disparity in our state. Call the Judiciary Committee Chair, Nicholas Scutari (D-22) at 908-587-0404 this weekend to voice your support for the bill!

Your talking points:

  • Please move forward on S3195.
  • The racial disparity in arrests for possessing marijuana is unacceptable.
  • Arrests for marijuana possession have long-term negative effects on a person’s future that are out of proportion with the seriousness of the crime. Racial disparity in marijuana arrests leads to racial inequality in our state.


State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22) has recently introduced a bill to legalize, regulate and tax small amounts of marijuana for New Jerseyans 21 and older. On the heels of his announcement, ACLU NJ released a report documenting that racial disparity in marijuana arrests in New Jersey is at an all-time high. Ocean, Salem, Hunterdon, Monmouth and Gloucester counties had the greatest racial disparities in the state.  Marijuana arrest has serious consequences: jail time, losing a job, a criminal record for at least three years that makes finding a new job difficult, losing a driver’s license, fines, and potential negative effects on immigration status, financial aid, public housing eligibility, and ability to adopt a child. Black New Jerseyans bear the brunt of these negative consequences, contributing to racial inequality. 

Sen. Scutari is also the chair of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold a hearing on his bill Monday, June 19th, at 10am. Let him and the Senate know you support this bill and want to reduce racial disparities in criminal justice. Contact Sen. Scutari at 908-587-0404. Consider attending or testifying at the hearing with ACLU NJ — get more details and rsvp here.

If you are a constituent of the other members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, be sure to contact them as well. You can call them (see numbers below), or send them an email by clicking on their name and then selecting “Contact Your Legislator(s)” on their web page.  (Not sure who your state senator is? Find out here.)

(TIP: Too nervous to call? No problem! Call on the weekend and leave a voicemail. Or, send an email by clicking on your state senator’s name above, and then selecting “Contact Your Legislator(s)” on their web page. Couldn’t be easier!)