Gov. Chris Christie (R) called state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) “a leader of political thought here in Hudson County,” revealing that the two met for 90 minutes last week to discuss expungement law reform – something he hopes will be introduced before June 30th.
“I know at the Prisoner Reentry Conference in Jersey City, you were talking about some reforms in expungement laws that can help people with drug convictions, ya know, 20, 30 years ago, so I’m just wondering if there’s any movement on that,” Hudson County View asked Christie during an appearance at Hoboken University Medical Center touting the success of Narcan.
Sitting down with ex-Gov. Jim McGreevey (D), who now runs the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, at his 3rd Annual Prisoner Reentry Conference last month, Christie said that expungement laws for non-violent offenders may change soon.
Prior to Christie taking the stage, Gary Meyer, a successful South Jersey business owner, spoke about the struggles he has endured due to a drug arrest from 24 years ago that he cannot get expunged under current state law.
“Yea, I had a great meeting last week with Senator Cunningham, who has kind of taken the lead – as I understand it at least – in the state Senate on expungement legislation. We met for about 90 minutes last Thursday, in my office.”
“We had some really good conversations about how we’re going to get to a point with a piece of legislation she could support, as with the process I was talking about with [state] Senator [Joe] Vitale (D-19), I have that same kind of relationship with Senator Cunningham.”
While Christie did not get into the particulars of what the expungement reform would entail, he had heavy praise for Cunningham, calling her “a leader on these criminal justice issues, and as far as I’m concerned, a leader of political thought here in Hudson County.”
Christie reiterated that he is hopeful the new piece of legislation will see the light of day by the end of the current legislative session: June 30th.
Reached on her cell phone this morning, Cunningham called Christie a “good partner” in criminal justice reforms to help give offenders a second chance.
“He has been a pretty good partner in dealing with things that have to do with expungement, drug court, he’s been very active, very good, he’s made these things a priority,” she said regarding the governor.
“We’re now trying to do expungement legislation that will check as many boxes off as possible. I’m happy he’d like to see it done by then [June 30th], I certainly would. That’s a good sign.”
Back in February 2013, Cunningham introduced the “Ban the Box” bill, which prevents employers from askingÂ about applicants’ criminal history until the end of the interview. Christie signed the bill into law in August 2014.
I want to thank John from the Hudson County View for keeping their feet to the fire. Without public pressure, NOTHING will happen in NJ. This is how things apparently work here iN new Jersey as I see it first hand trying to get anything done with the NJ Legislators. A lot of smiling and promises, but little gets done. Governor Christie, I wholly applaud you on being open to this change, but the Governor needs brave legislators to draft legislation. LET ME HELP-I am in contact with groups of folks that cannot move ahead and why the NAACP endorsed me because of my well known work. A BIG THANK YOU to those in the fight to give people a second chance for something they did so long ago to integrate into society. Gary E. Meyer