New Jersey State Senate Passes Bill that Would Reform Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Some Nonviolent Drug Offenses

Press Release December 9, 2009
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

Trenton-Senate Bill 1866, which would give judges discretion to waive mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent drug offenses, passed the New Jersey State Senate today by a vote of 24 to 11. Supporters of the bill called the passage a triumph for common sense and fiscal responsibility.

Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, applauded the legislators’ actions. “This vote is a powerful repudiation of New Jersey’s failed sentencing policies that have ruined lives and wasted money. This is a clear sign that New Jersey is headed in the right direction. The time has come for new solutions founded on evidence-based, cost-effective strategies.”

The bill now heads back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote. The Assembly companion bill, A2762, passed the Assembly by a vote of 49-27 in June 2008. Governor Corzine has said he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk.

S1866/A2762 generated a groundswell of support leading up to the Senate vote. A letter, signed by eight former New Jersey Attorneys General, in support of S1866, was released earlier this week. The signatories were: John J. Degnan, Robert Del Tufo, W. Cary Edwards, Zulima Farber, John Farmer, Peter C. Harvey, Deborah T. Poritz and James Zazzali.

The City Councils of Camden, Jersey City and Newark all passed resolutions in support of the bill in the last two months.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.