New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act
The following is a press release issued in support of the New Jersey "Opportunity to Compete Act". The intent of the legislation, according to its sponsors, is "to improve the economic viability, health, and security of New Jersey communities and to assist people with conviction histories to reintegrate into the community and to provide for their families and themselves."
Newark, NJ- April 26, 2013. Ban the Box NJ, a statewide grassroots campaign advocating for the passage of the New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act, will host a rally on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 1:00 PM on the front steps of the State House in Trenton, New Jersey.
The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act makes the job application process fairer for all New Jerseyans by moving inquiries into a candidate's criminal background to after a candidate has been interviewed and offered a conditional offer of employment. It is estimated that 65 million Americans have some criminal record although most of that group never spent time in prison or jail and many of those are merely arrest records. By making the job process fairer, the legislation could increase public safety and decrease government spending on corrections by reducing the number of individuals cycling through the criminal justice system. The bill would also help the economy by giving more New Jerseyans the ability to earn an income, pay taxes and become consumers for New Jersey businesses.
The sponsoring legislators of the Opportunity to Compete Act, Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman will speak at the rally along with Cornell William Brooks of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Micah Khan of the Integrated Justice Alliance, representatives from Building One New Jersey and several others. Ban the Box NJ will also submit a petition with signatures from members of various New Jersey communities to the Law and Public Safety Committee, where the legislation is expected to make its first appearance in early May. The rally will show the wide community support for the legislation immediately before this important committee hearing.
Cornell William Brooks, Esq. noted "The need to open quality employment opportunities to a broader spectrum of our communities is one of the major economic obstacles to recovery and growth in this country. For the hundreds of thousands of citizens of New Jersey with criminal records (most of which are minor and long ago), this rally declares: opportunity is not merely a patriotic word New Jerseyans say but rather a word we hear and experience-- when you can compete for work fairly without favor or bias.
For more information about the rally, please contact Ban the Box NJ's Director of Communications, Brandon Holt, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Energy Assistance Deadline Nears
April 30th was the deadline to apply for assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the state of New Jersey. Applications are available year-round, however, for the Universal Service Fund (USF) which provides monthly credits for electric and gas. Other programs remain open such as the TRUE Program and services offered by New Jersey SHARES. See the New Jersey Energy Assistance page for eligibility guidelines.