A bill reducing mandatory minimum sentences for bevy of minor crimes in a bid to reduce racial disparities in the state’s criminal justice system was quietly amended to remove minimum penalties for official misconduct, Politico New Jersey reported Wednesday.
Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Perth Amboy), the bill’s prime sponsor in the lower chamber, told Politico she was not aware of the changes, which were made during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Aug. 24.
The committee amended a companion bill eliminating mandatory minimums — adding official misconduct to the list of crimes that would have their sentencing guidelines retooled — for those already incarcerated on the same day.
The changes run afoul of recommendations issued by a state commission that spurred the legislation.
The New Jersey Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission recommendations eliminating minimums for most drug crimes and shoplifting offenses. The bill also reduces mandatory sentence lengths for certain types of robbery and burglary convictions.
It’s not clear whether the tacit change will kill the bill, despite the optics of passing legislation that reduces penalties for public corruption.