REFORM Alliance Announces Historic Clemency Announcement

unnamed-3-2-500x332 REFORM Alliance Announces Historic Clemency Announcement




Clemencies to Break Records; Executive Order Includes Standards for Expedited Consideration and Establishes Advisory Board to Provide Objective Review of Pardons and Commutations

REFORM Alliance aims to transform probation and parole by changing laws, systems, and culture to create real pathways to work and wellbeing. A justice system that holds people accountable and redirects back to work and wellbeing leads to stronger families and safer communities. Instead of keeping people trapped in a revolving door from probation/parole to prison — which costs taxpayers billions of dollars — we’re working to move people from the justice system into stability.

Meek Mill, Wallo267, Jessica Jackson, and Erin Haney of the REFORM Alliance team joined Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey as he announced a historic effort to issue “systematic, category-driven” clemencies on Juneteenth. The initiative is expected to break statewide records.

Governor Phil Murphy outlined his plans to issue pardons and commutations using best practices that include expedited consideration for certain clemency applications. The Executive Order, which Governor Murphy signed today, sets out certain categories of pending or future clemency applications that will receive expedited review. For example, individuals may receive expedited consideration for pardons for certain non-violent convictions if they have remained free from justice system involvement for sufficient time. Other examples of those receiving expedited consideration include individuals who are serving sentences that reflect an excessive trial penalty, and victims of domestic or sexual violence or sex trafficking who are incarcerated for committing a crime against the perpetrator. 

The fundamental goal underlying this initiative is to provide relief from inequities that have existed and been perpetuated in the criminal legal system.

The Executive Order also establishes a Clemency Advisory Board, which will be responsible for reviewing each clemency application and making recommendations to the Governor. The board will be the first of its kind in state history and will ensure that the Governor’s decisions regarding pardons and commutations are informed by the advice of individuals with diverse experiences and expertise relating to criminal justice and clemency. 

The state also launched a website to serve as a home base for those seeking more information on the Governor’s executive clemency initiative:

Governor Murphy, Meek Mill, Wallo267, and others spoke passionately about the announcement, which took place at the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark and can be viewed here.

“As we celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on our nation’s ongoing journey toward racial justice for Black and Brown Americans, I am proud to sign this Executive Order to help address inequities and unfairness in our system of justice in New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “This new clemency initiative is a cornerstone of our Administration’s efforts to make New Jersey the State of Second Chances. Today, we pledge to take a responsible and equity-driven approach to pardons and commutations that will prioritize the most compelling cases.”

“Governor Murphy’s actions today are bigger than a new program or correcting a handful of injustices. This is an entirely new approach to clemency that is going to cut red tape and restore hope, dignity, and opportunity for people unjustly trapped in the system,” said Robert “Meek Mill” Williams, Co-Founder and Co-Chair, REFORM Alliance. “I know personally the life-changing impact that clemency can have. Today’s announcement means that many more people will have an opportunity to reunite with their families, get back on their feet, and chase their dreams. It takes true leadership to use executive power like this, and I applaud Governor Murphy for doing what’s right and taking this bold step.”

“Juneteenth is a time for us to celebrate freedom fighters,” said Wallace “Wallo267” Peeples, Chief Marketing Officer, REFORM Alliance. “Governor Murphy’s clemency initiative honors that spirit. But today, the Governor is not just unlocking physical freedom – he’s unleashing human potential of thousands of people who have been stuck in the system. He’s telling them that their struggles, their growth, and their perseverance matter and can lead to a new beginning for them and their families. This is a game-changer for New Jersey that is going to create a positive ripple effect statewide.”

“By taking a categorical approach to clemency, Governor Murphy and his administration recognize that injustice is not solely limited to individual cases but is often systemic,” said Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy and Operations Officer, REFORM Alliance. “This new approach will streamline and modernize New Jersey’s clemency process, allowing the administration to get straight to the process of undoing harmful policies of the past, at scale. I especially applaud the Governor’s creation of an independent commission, shielded from political pressures and influence. This commission will ensure transparency, diverse perspectives, and objective analysis for these crucial decisions, replacing outdated decision-making processes with more consistent recommendations that prioritize rehabilitation and ensure a swifter, fairer path to justice for thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans.”

Over the past six years, several initiatives have been implemented in New Jersey to ensure that individuals involved in the justice system have a second chance to rebuild their lives. From signing legislation banning the box in housing to restoring voting rights to over 80,000 residents on probation or parole to the creation of a petition process for “clean slate” expungements for certain offenders and more, the Murphy Administration has solidified New Jersey’s standing as one of the nation’s most progressive criminal justice systems.

REFORM Alliance has successfully worked with Governor Murphy and Governors across the country to pass and implement evidence-based policies that improve outcomes for people in the criminal justice system, with a focus on the largest segment of the system: people on probation and parole. 

To date, under the leadership of Chief Advocacy Officer Jessica Jackson and Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Erin Haney, REFORM has passed 18 bipartisan bills, in partnership with local coalitions in 11 states, that have created pathways for more than 800,000 people to exit the system.

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