State of New Jersey Archives: on Crime

Ray Lesniak: Hundreds wrongfully convicted have likely been executed

Bryan Halsey was given a second change when, thanks to one juror who held out against the death penalty, after 19 years in jail, he walked out a free man because it was discovered he did not commit the heinous crime for which he was convicted--the brutal murder of a 7 and 8 year old boy and girl. The Supreme Court allows states to put to death persons convicted of heinous crimes, and the inevitable innocent, like Bryan, along with them. Hundreds of others like Bryan have been released from death row because they were wrongfully convicted. Hundreds of others wrongfully convicted have likely been executed.

Not in New Jersey, thanks to legislation I sponsored in 2007 replacing the death penalty with life without parole. New Jersey became the first state in over 30 years to abolish its death penalty.

In 2008, I authored a book, "The Road to Abolition: How New Jersey Abolished The Death Penalty." Since then, three other states, New Mexico, Illinois, and Connecticut have followed New Jersey's lead

Source: 2016-17 N.J. Governor campaign website,

Phil Murphy: For-profit prison industry targets communities of color

Phil believes that the status quo in criminal justice has failed too many, and it is time to address the structural racism in our criminal justice system. For too long, special interests, like the for-profit prison industry, have driven criminal justice policies. We can no longer accept policies that disproportionately target communities of color.
Source: 2017 N.J. gubernatorial campaign website, Jun 6, 2017

Chris Christie: Ban the box: don't ask job applicants about criminal record

Whether leaving a treatment center to a sober living home or leaving prison after having received treatment for the disease that led you to a life of crime, the road to recovery is made even longer and the road to relapse even shorter if the person in recovery cannot find a job.

We now have a criminal justice system that will permit our judges to keep the truly dangerous sociopath behind bars, and will release those non-violent offenders who have only remained in jail because they are poor.

We know the greatest predictor of personal success in every way is a job. Employment is a long term factor towards reducing recidivism. Thanks to our bi-partisan efforts, we have "banned the box", which was a barrier to employment [referring to hiring application forms which had a check box asking if applicants have a criminal record].

There are many more barriers, which is why we will be working to challenge long accepted exclusions for employment of the formerly incarcerated.

Source: 2017 State of the State address to N.J. Legislature Jan 10, 2017

Steve Fulop: Citizen complaints against police--and crime--are way down

Over the past two years, crime--almost anyway you measure--is down. Way down. At the same time, citizen complaints against the police are way down too.

You usually don't see those two trends happen at the same time. But we're seeing them in Jersey City. Why? In part, because Mayor Fulop has made diversity and police reform a priority.

Jersey City is one the most diverse cities in the country. But when Mayor Fulop came into office the number of high-ranking African-American police officers in the force was... one.

Under Mayor Fulop, Jersey City became the only city in the state to take advantage of an opportunity presented by the US Department of Justice--and promote African American police officers. Today, Jersey City has one of the most diverse police forces in the country--and is seen as a model for police reform.

Source: 2016-17 N.J. gubernatorial campaign website, Nov 1, 2015

Jeff Bell: Stricter punishment reduces crime

Q: Do you support or oppose the statement, "Stricter punishment reduces crime"?

A: Support.

Source: Email interview for 2014 N.J. Senate race with OnTheIssues Jul 1, 2014

Chris Christie: Bail reform: Keep dangerous criminals in jail until trial

We must do everything we can to swiftly jail those violent criminals who bring additional murder and disruption to innocent victims. Almost two years ago, I announced a proposed constitutional amendment to modify the right to bail in NJ. The concept is simple: NJ courts should have the right to keep dangerous criminals off the streets and in jail until trial.

Why is this important? A study by the federal government's Justice Department found that 1/3 of defendants released before trial ended up being charged with some type of pre-trial misconduct. 1/6 were arrested for a new offense--and half of those were felonies.

The federal government allows a violent criminal who is a danger to the community to be held without bail. NJ law does not. This must change. How can we justify exposing our citizens to the risk of violent crime at the hands of those, already in custody, who we know are disposed to commit it? There is no justification for that. Let us mirror federal law. Pass bail reform now.

Source: 2014 State of the State address to N.J. Legislature Jan 14, 2014

Chris Christie: Bail reform package: jail violent offenders before trial

We can only improve our quality of life by keeping the most violent criminals off the streets. So, I ask you to approve my bail reform package, which would mirror the federal system. It would keep offenders with a history of violence who are a danger to our communities in jail until the time of their trial, instead of releasing them into society to prey on the public.

This may require a constitutional amendment but it is reform that is long overdue. Do you know that if a person is arrested with a long record of violence we cannot detain that person in jail pending trial? We must release that person, regardless of how dangerous they are to potential witnesses against them or innocent members of our society. Let us amend our bail laws to allow judges to consider the factor of dangerousness to our communities before we release a violent person back on to the street to maim or kill while they await trial. This is just simple common sense.

Source: N.J. 2012 State of the State Address Jan 17, 2012

Cory Booker: Launch Fatherhood Center and pro-bono legal help for ex-cons

Booker has tried to find ways to short-circuit the farcical arrest-release-rearrest-rerelease cycle by encouraging ex-offenders get a foothold once they're out--launching the Fatherhood Center, which helps men who want to be better dads, as well as partnering with the legal community to create the nation's first pro bono legal service for ex-cons.
Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race Sep 1, 2010

Cory Booker: Police overhaul to change cronyism, favoritism, and cynicism

One of Booker's earliest priorities as mayor was to overhaul the police department, which suffered from cronyism, favoritism, and cynicism; a corrosive "Why bother?" attitude had set in.

Alerted via e-mail every time there was a shooting, and frantic to avoid another one, he started hitting the hoops court at midnight to help keep kids busy and out of harm's way. Then he began going out on night patrols in cruisers with cops, rolling up to shady characters and initiating come-to-Jesus conversations about what they were doing with their lives. The foolhardy gambit had its impact: Booker's dedication started to rub off on the department. More orthodox strategies have included what's known as the broken windows theory--the idea that attention to basic quality-of-life issues can ultimately help avert serious crimes.

Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race Sep 1, 2010

Cory Booker: Applied "broken windows theory" in Newark policing

More orthodox strategies have included what's known as the broken windows theory--the idea that attention to basic quality-of-life issues can ultimately help avert serious crimes, as when two policemen stopped a guy drinking a beer on the corner, then discovered he was carrying two guns. When they brought him to the precinct and ran his name through the database, they found out he'd just been released from prison for shooting someone six years earlier on that very corner. "If those cops had driven past the guy, we probably would have had a homicide that night," [Booker's police chief] notes. Overall, [Booker's police policy] is getting results: Murders are down 29 percent since Booker took office, and 2010 saw an almost festive-sounding "murder-free March," the first such month in Newark in more than 40 years. But there have been setbacks.
Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race Sep 1, 2010

Joe Pennacchio: Supports the death penalty

Source: N.J. Gubernatorial 2007-2008 Political Courage Test Nov 2, 2007

Joe Pennacchio: End parole for repeat violent offenders

Source: N.J. Gubernatorial 2007-2008 Political Courage Test Nov 2, 2007

John Wisniewski: End parole for repeat violent offenders

Source: Gubernatorial 2007-2008 N.J. Political Courage Test Nov 1, 2007

Jim McGreevey: Expand the death penalty & life sentences

Source: 1997 N.J.Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1997

Jim McGreevey: Prosecute juveniles as adults; death penalty for 16-yr-olds

Source: 1997 N.J.Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1997

  • The above quotations are from State of New Jersey Politicians: Archives.
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2020 Presidential contenders on Crime:
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Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

2020 Third Party Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (L-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
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Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Gov.John Kasich(R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence(R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Pres.Donald Trump(R-NY)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld(R-MA & L-NY)

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Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
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