Governor Murphy Introduces New Clemency Initiative

Governor Phil Murphy marked Juneteenth with the signing of an executive order introducing a new clemency initiative. The program holds the potential to expunge the criminal records of numerous New Jersey residents. The Governor says it aims to rectify the injustices faced by thousands within the criminal justice system.

The announcement, made at St. James AME Church, drew a full audience, including rapper Meek Mill, who has been vocal about his own encounters with the legal system. Governor Murphy’s initiative includes establishing a clemency board to ensure a more just and considerate approach to criminal justice.

Murphy said, “Historically speaking here in New Jersey, receiving a pardon or having your sentence commuted was not a matter of either fairness or objectivity, it was a matter of who you knew or how well connected you were to those in power. With the executive order I’m signing today, we are changing that.”

The initiative seeks to provide relief to individuals who received lengthy sentences during the peak of the war on drugs or those who opted to contest their cases in court, only to receive disproportionate prison terms. Governor Murphy appointed Justin Dews, as the board’s chair. He is a former senior counsel to the governor.

“A pardon removes barriers that the law erects. Commutations shortens sentences. What the law says you cannot do, a pardon restores, and what the law says you must face, a pardon wipes away”, said Dews.

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