At the YWCA Princeton Now Hear This session on March 14, Simone Brickers and Nicole Plett presented updates to the problem of mass incarceration as it relates to the New Jim Crow awareness movement. Plett, who represents the Integrated Justice Alliance, offered info on criminal justice bills that reside in legislative committee. To get these bills out of committee will require pressure from voters. March 25 is the deadline for public comment on #3, prison telephone surcharge.
Please support these bills.
1. “The Opportunity to Compete Act”
S2586 & A3837
Also known as “Ban the Box,” this bill establishes certain employment rights for persons with
criminal histories. Under this law, criminal background checks are delayed until later in the
hiring process, encouraging employers to focus on the current skills and qualifications of a job
candidate, rather than past mistakes. This bill will come before the Labor Committee of each
House following this month’s budget negotiations.
2. Prison-based Gerrymandering
S1055 & A1437
Requires incarcerated persons be counted as residents of their previous address, not prison,
for redistricting purposes.
Primary sponsors are Senator Sandra Cunningham and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Known as the prison-based gerrymandering bill, you can learn more about this issue on the
national website of the Prison Policy Initiative: and on NJ’s
page within the site: The bill was been passed out of the Senate State Government committee (May 2012). It is currently before the Assembly State Government committee (Assemblywoman Linda Stender,
3. Prison Telephone Surcharge A1436
Requires lowest possible price for inmate telephone calls.
Primary Sponsor is Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Bonnie Watson Coleman and Albert Coutinho, Primary Sponsors.
In the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The FCC is also receiving comments on
this issue as it pertains to interstate phone calls by incarcerated persons; deadline for public
comments is March 25.
It’s on APRIL FOOL’S DAY though not a subject for joking. The next Continuing Conversation on Race will be Monday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m., in the Princeton Public Library (second floor) on the topic of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. You do NOT have to have read the book to participate.
Larry Spruill and Rosemary Cilenti will lead the discussion, starting with the questions here.
Candace McCoy, a Professor at the Graduate Center and John
Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New
York will talk about aspects of the function and dysfunction
of the United States criminal justice system. The event will be
at Princeton Friends Meeting on Sunday, April 21, from 7 to 8
p.m. Everyone is invited to the talk and to the potluck dinner
that precedes the talk at 6:00 p.m. Open discussion will follow.
Her talk will explore these questions, which, as she says, obsess
Why is it that jury trials are used in less than 1% of criminal cases
Why did plea bargaining become so powerful?
If you need due process from an American court, what does it take to get it?
How does the death of due process connect to wider problems in
the criminal justice system, such as mass incarceration and racial
and class disparities?
These events will all take place in the First Day School that is on the
same property as the Princeton Friends School, but the buildings are
not the same. The entrance to the campus is off Quaker Road just
before it intersects Mercer Road and just before the road block where
Quaker Road leads to US 1. The First Day School shares a wall with
the burial ground