According to a March 2013 report – NEW JERSEY JAIL POPULATION ANALYSIS – over 65% of the population in the NJ prisons are non-violent criminals (theft, robbery, public disturbance, drug use, etc.), most of whom could not afford to post bail. Based on the 2015 census data, close to 15,000 prisoners (71% are blacks) are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. According to a 2010 data report by Vera Institute, the cost per prisoner per year was $31,286, surely money the governor can use elsewhere. Did I mention that the taxpayers foot up that bill? Which brings me back to the topic of “non-violent criminals”
For fear of boring you, I will avoid taking you all the way back to slavery time to explain the problem which has not only contributed to an overcrowded prison population but also drastically stigmatized Blacks and thus rendered their progress extremely slow if at all. The Criminal Justice System which initially comprised exclusively of Whites setup a system to keep Blacks out of sight (No Negros Allowed signs; Blacks must go to the kitchen to eat at a restaurant, etc.) after the abolition of slavery. Free, with just the shirt on their back, deprived of rights and even dignity, Blacks resorted to stealing (food, clothes, basic necessities) to survive in the open while traveling further and further away from the South where they could be killed without any consequence to the murderers. The inhumane treatment Blacks suffered was later and further exacerbated by the “Justice” system which has criminalized their action: stealing to survive. Ironic isn’t it?