As governing bodies across the nation take a critical look at promoting social justice laws and reforms that are fair to all Americans, Assemblyman Jamel Holley has assembled a toolkit of recommended legislation – either introduced or adopted – designed to propel the country forward.
Holley, a vocal leader of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, organized a team of research volunteers to comb through progressive legislation, as well as on the federal level, to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans, no matter their color, creed or ethnic origin, as well as to encourage police reform. The result is Holley’s “Social Justice Toolkit for State Legislatures Across the U.S.”
“We have worked long and hard over the past two weeks to identify laws that can be easily adopted around the country to help America begin to heal,” Holley said. “Our goal is to use the legislative process for the absolute greatest good so that we may all live, finally, in a color-blind America that ensures anyone can be treated fairly and have an equitable chance at success.”
In hand-selecting recommended bills, Holley admitted, there was plenty of robust discussion and debate as his volunteers come from various backgrounds in the 20th Legislative District, which includes such diverse communities as Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union Township.
“I represent likely the greatest Melting Pot of Americans that you can imagine,” Holley said. “I represent citizens who have come here from all over the world, looking for the equal opportunity promised under our Constitution. It is my solemn responsibility, as their elected representative in Trenton, to help them fulfill the American Dream. That role begins – and ends – with the creation of laws and doctrines that give them the fighting chance they need.”
Holley and his team have selected diverse laws for the tool kit, such as ending racial profiling, police brutality and police discrimination. Proposed laws and reforms also focus on requiring dash cameras and body cameras for all police officers on the beat, stronger police training programs and the establishment of task forces to investigate potential police misconduct.
“It is important to note that our tool kit is not against the police,” Holley said. “I would argue that 99% of our emergency responders perform their duties with honor and with a strong ethical code. But we have painfully learned what bad actors can do. It is our role as lawmakers to protect the public from any and all threats, as we work together to finally rid our society of racism.”
-States should adopt Joint Legislative resolutions supporting Congressional Bill
H.R. 7120 Justice in Policing Act of 2020
This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices.
-Creating a legislative model “Earn Your Way Out Act”; which requires states Department of Corrections to develop inmate reentry plan and establish information database; establishes administrative parole release and provides compliance credits.
-Legislation clarifying that a law enforcement officer who knowingly chokes another person engages in use of deadly force.
-Revise expungement eligibility laws and procedures, including a new “clean slate” model that automates a process to render convictions and related records inaccessible; creates e-filing system for expungements; eliminates expungement filing fees; appropriate dollars and apply to states Department of Law and Public Safety for implementation.
-Enact a law to remove prohibition on voting by persons convicted of indictable offense who are on parole or probation.
-Legislation that requires person taking written examination for motor vehicle permit to watch video of rights and responsibilities of driver stopped by law enforcement; requires testing on rights and responsibilities of driver stopped by law enforcement.
-Provides that Attorney General handle investigation and prosecution of crime involving person’s death by law enforcement officer while acting in officer’s official capacity or while in custody; requires trial in venue outside county where incident occurred. Attorney General (AG) roles may differ by state if State Police reports direct to that Office of AG. Creating an Independent Prosecutor.
-An ACT requiring the counting of an incarcerated individual at the individual’s residential address for legislative redistricting purposes.
-Establish the “Statewide Investing in Your Promise Neighborhood Commission” to examine the effect of poverty on the development of the children in the State’s most fiscally distressed urban and rural areas, and to develop recommendations about how local nonprofits, civic organizations, religious institutions, and institutions of higher education in the State can help to support and improve the lives of children living in these areas. The bill should indicate an appropriation for the operation of the commission.
-A law that includes false incrimination and filing false police report as form of bias intimidation; establishes crime of false 9-1-1 call with purpose to intimidate or harass based on race or other protected class.
-To establish an Act requiring minority recruitment and selection programs for state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies.
-A law that requires States to create a Law Revision Commission to identify statutes containing racially discriminatory language.
-States should adopt a State Holiday for “Juneteenth Independence Day” on June 19 of each year.
-Establish a geriatric parole law for certain eligible inmates.
-An Act concerning the collection and reporting of certain prosecutorial and criminal justice data.
-Legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to provide internal affairs and personnel files of law enforcement officers to other agencies under certain circumstances.
-Requires each State through its Department of Law and Public Safety to incorporate implicit bias in cultural diversity training materials for law enforcement officers; makes mandatory cultural diversity and implicit bias training for law enforcement officers.
-Review and Codify State Attorney General Offices directives concerning criminal investigations of law enforcement use-of-force and in-custody deaths.
-An Act that expands expungement eligibility; eliminates cap on number of convictions person may expunge; eliminates limitation on number of times person may be granted expungement.
-Unrestrict driver’s license suspension for certain crimes and offenses; removes automatic suspension for child support arrearages.
-Create a law entitled “The Opportunity to Compete Act;” which establishes employment rights for persons with criminal histories.
-An Act that will requires racial and ethnic impact statement for certain legislative bills and regulations affecting sentencing of inmates.
-Establish a law dealing with the decriminalization possession of marijuana/personal-use and or legalize adult use of marijuana.
-States should establish Reparations Task Force to conduct research and develop reparatory proposals and recommendations to address the generational harms caused by the States role in America’s institution of slavery and its legacy of systemic racial discrimination.