by Catherine Smith
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Wednesday that restores voting rights for convicted criminals who are out on parole or probation. The measure will apply to roughly 80,000 convicts who are on probation or parole starting in March, ABC News reports.
The governor said the initiatives are part of what he calls his Second Chance agenda. The New Jersey law will take effect in 90 days.
Today @GovMurphy signed bills S4154 and A5823 into law, here in Newark. This creates a petition process for “clean slate” expungement for those who have not committed an offense in 10+ yrs & restores voting rights to those returning home on parole/probation. What a great day! pic.twitter.com/LKjnflduRK
— City of Newark (@CityofNewarkNJ) December 18, 2019
“I am proud to sign one of the most progressive expungement laws in the nation, which will allow more New Jerseyans the opportunity to fully engage in our society. I am also proud to enact legislation that will restore voting rights to over 80,000 residents on probation or parole, allowing them to fully participate in our democracy,” Murphy said in a press release.
The state will now create a “clean slate” expungement for residents who have not committed an offense in 10 years and who have not been convicted of the “most serious” crimes. The bill also requires that low-level marijuana convictions be sealed at the disposition of the case, so those convictions cannot be used in the future.
Several states have taken up the cause to reinstate ‘disenfranchised’ former felons, and it has become a Democratic focus since the 2018 midterms. Currently, Maine and Vermont are the only states where felons never lose the right to vote.
As of next year, New Jersey will join 17 other states, plus the District of Columbia, in allowing people on probation or parole to vote, according to The Sentencing Project.
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Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.
Photo “Phil Murphy” by the City of Newark.