Sweeney Addresses Local NAACP

Sweeney Addresses Local NAACP

Pittsgrove Township – Speaking to a meeting of the Greater Vineland NAACP this evening, Senate President Steve Sweeney spoke about progress on key issues, and the need to continue to work together for equal opportunities for productive change.

The event, sponsored by the Greater Vineland NAACP Branch 2115, celebrated the many achievements in the African American Community. This year, the Vineland branch honored the service and achievements of Demetrica Todd-Ruiz, Municipal Judge of Vineland, Richard T. Smith, Warden of the Cumberland County Department of Corrections and Jennifer Webb-McRae, Cumberland County Prosecutor.

Senator Sweeney started by congratulating the honorees.

“Judge Todd-Ruiz, Richard Smith and Prosecutor Webb-McRae are all not just amazing public servants, but they are amazing people,” said Senator Sweeney. “Over the years I’ve been lucky to work with them and to call them friends. Your work in the criminal justice system has been crucial to making sure that we have a system that treats everyone equally and fairly.”

Also participating was Richard T. Smith, President of the NAACP NJ State Conference, one of the most accomplished and respected leaders in the African American community in New Jersey and Angelia “Angie” Edwards, President of the Greater Vineland NAACP Branch, who has led the organization with “distinction,” Senator Sweeney said.

Senator Sweeney talked about reforms to the criminal justice system that will make public safety the priority rather than the ability to pay. New Jersey is a national leader on recently-enacted bail reforms that don’t keep people in jail just because they can’t afford bail, instead having the courts assess the threat they pose to others to keep them behind bars. Senator Sweeney praised and thanked Richard Smith for working on the reform legislation.

“We have ended New Jersey’s unfair system of monetary bail,” said Senator Sweeney. “People shouldn’t be kept in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail. “They shouldn’t be penalized for being poor. At the same time, those who pose a danger to the community shouldn’t be allowed out just because they have the money to pay. The reforms put public safety ahead of the ability to pay.”

Senator Sweeney also discussed school funding reforms and the importance of equal education opportunities for all students, regardless of where they live in New Jersey.

“We are working on a school funding reform plan that will provide full funding of the plan that was approved by the Supreme Court,” said Senator Sweeney, referring to his ongoing effort to fully fund the state aid formula. “Every child is entitled to an equal opportunity for a quality education and every school district deserves full funding under the law.”

February is African American History Month, a time to honor the contributions to America by African Americans and to recognize the barriers generations of African Americans have overcome in striving for equal opportunity.

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