In unsurprising--but for advocates, disappointing--news, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act (S.51/A.547) on Monday, which recently passed both houses of the NJ Legislature and would have profoundly limited the use of isolation in all of the state's prisons and jails, particularly on vulnerable populations. Disregarding the wide support for this bill (especially among faith communities) in addition to the well-documented dangers and costs of segregated housing, Governor Christie berated the bill's proponents and denied that the practice is being used in New Jersey.
In what ultimately amounted to ad hominem attacks against his political opponents (specifically the bills primary sponsor, Senator Raymond Lesniak), Christie's veto memo was filled with half-truths and complete lies, reminding criminal justice advocates like NJCAIC of the deep need for honest and progressive leadership in the state house.
NJCAIC and our allies remain undaunted in the battle to end torture in New Jersey, and we believe that the most recent legislative success is just a tremor signaling major changes to the reforms that are imminent in coming years.
To read two excellent rebuttals of Governor Christie's veto comments, please read:
- An op-ed on Solitary Watch by Marshall Justice Rountree, NJCAIC organizer and former prisoner.
- An exposé published on the Marshall Project by Daniel Teehan, NJCAIC member through Princeton University Students for Prison Education and Reform.