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Governor Phil Murphy (NJ) Signs the Dignity Act

#cut50 Applauds New Jersey for Passing Law to Ensure Dignity for Incarcerated Parents and Primary Caregivers

Signed by Governor Murphy today, new protects caregivers & kids from painful separation and improves state correctional facility standards across the state 

TRENTON, NJ, JANUARY 9, 2020 — Today, top criminal justice reformers at #cut50, a program of Dream Corps, and New Jersey Dignity Ambassador Gale Muhammad of Women Who Never Give Up celebrate the official passage of the Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretaker Parents Act (A-3979), which was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy today. The bill provides incarcerated parents and primary caregivers with certain protections that help preserve their familial bonds while in state correctional facilities. 

Co-authored by Assemblywomen Yvonne Lopez and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, some specific provisions of the bill include:

  • Placing incarcerated primary caretaker parents with children in a facility as close to that child as possible;
  • Promoting and encourage visitation policies;
  • Prohibiting solitary confinement and shackling of incarcerated pregnant women;
  • Providing those incarcerated with parenting classes and trauma informed care, and corrections officers with training on how to interact with victims of trauma; and
  • Allowing formerly incarcerated people to mentor incarcerated parents and assist them with reentry.

“After countless years of hard work put in by partners, coalitions, and individuals impacted by incarceration across the state; we can finally say our incarcerated women in NJ have been heard,” said Esteban Nunez, #cut50 State Policy Director. “A-3979 builds upon the progress of #cut50’s Dignity Campaign across the country, and we’re excited to add New Jersey to the list of states that believe in restoring dignity to our incarcerated women. We are eager to continue building off this momentum, improving the quality of the lives of those behind bars, as well as their families and loved ones.”  

A 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that the number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled, up 131 percent, and the number of children with a father in prison grew by 77 percent – one of the fastest-growing populations in the criminal justice system.

“Families impacted by the criminal justice system deserve accessible visitation rights, meaningful resources and compassionate guards that can facilitate visits,” said Gale Muhammad, #cut50’s New Jersey Dignity Ambassador. “These new policies will be key to helping women and families impacted by mass incarceration receive the adequate resources for a successful transition to nu-entry.”

More information about #cut50’s work for the New Jersey Dignity Act and the Dignity Campaign can be found here.

About #cut50: 

#cut50,­ a program of Dream Corps­, is a national bipartisan effort to reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails while making our communities safer. Our campaigns are led by people who have been directly impacted by the justice system and want to create change.


Media Contacts:

Abree Dominguez

[email protected]

Sunshine Sachs

[email protected] 

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