At the request of the Office of the Public Defender, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court signed an order on Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 to release up to 1,000 prisoners from county jails. The order applies to inmates who are serving jail sentences as a condition of probation and those serving time from a municipal court conviction. Public Defender Joseph Krakora wrote that it is “incumbent upon the criminal justice system to reduce our county jail populations to the extent possible without compromising public safety.” Advocates also demanded that Governor Murphy release people detained by ICE. Eric Lerner of RDM (Resist the Deportation Machine) said, “The Governor could order the release of ICE detainees under the state’s Constitutionally recognized general police powers to preserve the safety of those who work in the jail and the other inmates, as well as that of the general community.” Those in agreement with Lerner cite inadequate holding facilities that could easily spread COVID-19 should it enter the system. Murphy praises the release:
Meanwhile, the Governor issued a stay-at-home order for every NJ resident that bans all public and private gatherings of any size. Non-essential businesses are shut down. The Governor threatens to punish non-criminal citizens for leaving their homes with legal measures if they refuse to follow the order. President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden opposed Murphy's order stating it is "unacceptable ... absurd that this court order to release inmates includes cases such as - failure to register as a sex offender, child endangerment, resisting arrest/assault on our Law Enforcement officers with no regard for the victims. Is this really about preventing an outbreak in our jail? No cases (COVID_19) in Monmouth Correctional facility to date."
And he was right. One inmate in his county was released on Tuesday and rearrested on Wednesday. Attorney General Gruwal says prisoners "will have to comply with the same stay at home orders that are in effect right now and ... they'll have to complete their sentences when our public health emergency concludes."
What happens when it comes time to "collect" the prisoners again? What Gruwal didn't mention was the terms of the order can be modified so they don't have to go back. Prisoners who are let go are encouraged to quarantine themselves for 14 days, but might not have the desire or means to do this.
What type of business is considered non-essential? New Jersey Firearms State Licensed Dealers are now closed, cutting off the 2nd amendment right of US citizens who want to purchase a firearm, maybe even to protect themselves from released state prisoners.
Rob Kashinsky, a member of the Franklin Township GOP, is suing Governor Murphy for violating his right to bear arms. The lawsuit states “While state and local governments have the power to reasonably regulate the keeping and bearing of arms, they do not have the power to prohibit the keeping and bearing of arms, nor do they have the power to close the channels of distribution by which people obtain firearms and ammunition.”
Keep an eye out for future posts on how you can support Rob and his fight against the Governor. In the meantime, lock your homes and cars!