Will the recent book-banning controversy in New Jersey prisons cause Phil Murphy to change his mind and shop for a new Commissioner of Corrections?
That depends on a few things: did Murphy and his transition team know about the ban on a book called The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness before he announced his intention to keep Gary Lanigan in his cabinet post? Did Lanigan sign off on the ban, and if he didn’t, did he know about it? Did Gov. Chris Christie or his staff know about it — and if they did, will they say that?
The book links the issues of race discrimination and mass incarceration. The Department of Corrections lifted the ban today, after complaints by New Jersey’s ACLU chapter.
It’s safe to assume that members of the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee will close question the low-key Lanigan during his confirmation hearings about book banning in general – and specifically about The New Jim Crow. If his answers displease the transition staff – for it would be shocking if they don’t call Lanigan in for a supplemental interview – it’s possible that Murphy will bail.
Lanigan has held the corrections post since Christie appointed him in 2010. Before moving to New Jersey, Lanigan was a budget official at the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York, and as a Deputy Commissioner of Corrections under New York City Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.