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Dear Chairman Taliaferro and Members of the Law & Public Safety Committee:
On behalf of Americans for Prosperity – NJ, and our tens of thousands of activists across the Garden State, I urge you to please vote “Yes” today on A-3979, the “Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretaker Parents Act”, which would reduce the collateral consequences of incarceration on our society by addressing problems faced by parents of minor children behind bars, as well as finally end the inhumane practice of shackling pregnant women in labor. There is matching legislation at the federal level, as well.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than five million children in the United States have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. This figure reveals the staggering extent to which over-incarceration impacts not only those who are jailed or imprisoned unnecessarily, but also those left behind. From a taxpayer perspective, it costs more than $60,000 a year to incarcerate an individual in New Jersey. Lawmakers across the country have an opportunity to improve the lives of millions by pursuing criminal justice reform, and this bill legislation is a step in the right direction.
In addition, lawmakers have an opportunity to tackle the human rights issue of harsh prison conditions, including the shackling of incarcerated pregnant women in labor. In many cases, women serving time are non-violent offenders, such as drug possession or credit card fraud. Reducing shackles and restraints is important for human dignity, as well as medical safety for the patient and medical provider. By its nature, it is difficult for nurses and doctors to provide necessary medical care to a restrained patient. The American Medical Association has called the practice barbaric, medically hazardous, and dehumanizing.
This bill would end this practice, and advance a number of additional reforms to visitation, solitary confinement, and inmate education that will restore an element of human dignity to our jails and prisons.
Americans for Prosperity applauds the sensible and compassionate reforms put forward in A-3979, and looks forward to working with the legislature on further solutions to address over-incarceration and the collateral consequences of the criminal justice system in New Jersey.
Should you have any questions or wish to set up a meeting, please feel free to contact me directly at EJedynak@afphq.org or 862-229-4953. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Erica L. Jedynak
New Jersey State Director
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org.