As a founding member of Youth Justice New Jersey, the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest has advanced a number of initiatives to improve New Jersey’s juvenile justice system. Most recently, we worked with the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic at Rutgers Law School, ACLU-NJ, New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, and Juvenile Law Center to draft and advocate for a bill that significantly reforms juvenile sentencing and parole. The percentage of youth serving their maximum sentence has steadily increased in New Jersey over the past 10 years, and alarming numbers of young people who have been released from custody are reincarcerated because of technical parole violations. The bill is intended to reverse these destructive trends while also ensuring public safety.
On January 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed the bill into law, after its passage by the Legislature on January 13. The new law brings New Jersey’s Juvenile Code in line with best practices around the country by creating more transparency and predictability in the juvenile sentencing and parole process, promoting incentives for positive youth behavior, and supporting the juvenile’s eventual reintegration into society. The new law will improve conditions for juveniles in a number of important ways:
The new legislation promises to reduce crime and recidivism by giving young people the opportunities and support they need to move on with their lives.