Public Notices and Press Releases

Governor Murphy Launches Clemency Advisory Board to Reform New Jersey's Justice System

New executive order establishes a path to redemption, focusing on rehabilitative justice and reducing the stigma of past convictions.

TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 362, establishing a Clemency Advisory Board to aid in the review and processing of clemency applications in New Jersey. This move underscores the administration's commitment to criminal justice reform, focusing on rehabilitation and providing second chances to those entangled in the justice system.

As we celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on our nation’s ongoing journey toward racial justice for Black and Brown Americans, I am proud to sign this Executive Order to help address inequities and unfairness in our system of justice in New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy.This new clemency initiative is a cornerstone of our Administration’s efforts to make New Jersey the State of Second Chances. Today, we pledge to take a responsible and equity-driven approach to pardons and commutations that will prioritize the most compelling cases.”

"In the spirit of Juneteenth, today we take another step forward in the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America," said Lt. Governor Tahesha Way. "Too many people have been failed by our criminal justice system. The signing of this Executive Order provides second chances for our society and those who receive clemency. I am proud to see our state build upon our efforts for a progressive criminal justice system that truly ensures justice for all.”

"Returning Citizen Support Group support the Governor's clemency initiative. Through this initiative we hope the Governor will not only provide a second chance for returning citizens but to transform the very system that has too often hinder their reintegration," said Edwin Ortiz, Co-Founder of Returning Citizens Support Group.

The Clemency Advisory Board, consisting of the Attorney General and at least five public members, including a retired judiciary member, an experienced criminal defense attorney, and various representatives with backgrounds in social justice and victim advocacy, will convene monthly to assess clemency applications. Their recommendations will directly assist Governor Murphy in making final decisions on pardons and commutations, though the final authority rests solely with him.

This initiative reflects a broader push to humanize and reform the state’s approach to justice. The board is tasked with providing expedited consideration for certain categories of applicants, such as those who have served their sentences or were convicted of crimes that are no longer considered unlawful. Special attention will also be given to applications from victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, or those subjected to excessive sentencing compared to pre-trial plea offers.

The executive order also stipulates confidentiality in the deliberations and recommendations of the board, ensuring a candid and respectful evaluation process. The materials pertaining to clemency applications will be kept confidential and exempt from public records requests, maintaining the privacy and dignity of applicants.

This reform comes amid growing recognition of the disproportionate impact of criminal convictions on Black and Hispanic communities in New Jersey. By reforming the clemency process, the Murphy administration aims to mitigate these impacts and support the successful reintegration of individuals into their communities, free from the burdens of past convictions.

As New Jersey moves forward with these significant reforms, the Clemency Advisory Board will play a crucial role in shaping a more equitable and humane justice system, emphasizing the state's commitment to justice reform and the intrinsic value and dignity of all its residents.

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