Governor Murphy Won’t Say Whether He Plans to Pardon Anyone Soon

Governor Phil Murphy struck a noncommittal tone recently when asked if he plans on issuing any pardons in the near future.

“Do you plan to make any pardons anytime soon?” a reporter asked the governor at a press briefing. “And if not, why is it that you will have gone your whole first term without personally pardoning or commuting any sentences?”

“No news on pardons to make,” Murphy responded. “That doesn’t mean that I’m making a statement either for or against them. I am proud of the fact that we’ve expunged 362,000 low-end drug records. I’m proud to have stood on the right side of the minimum mandatory sentences and all the work that we’re doing around that, but nothing beyond that to report.”

Notably, the governor did not answer the reporter’s query about why he has yet to make a single pardon or commutation.
The governor was pressed on the matter earlier this year during a debate by moderator David Cruz.

“Mr. Murphy, you campaigned calling marijuana ‘a matter of social justice,’” Cruz began. “Why haven’t you commuted sentences and pardoned people who are still locked up for low-level, non-violent marijuana offences, which you have the power to do?”

“I think, David, we have expunged 362,000 low-level drug offences last I checked, in terms of numbers,” Murphy responded. “We did it for social justice. I’m thrilled that adult use – adult an important word there – is going to create jobs, is going to create a new industry, it’s going to create revenue for the state – I’m thrilled with all that. But the reason I got there, particularly as a father of four, is social justice. We inherited the widest white/non-white gap in terms of persons incarcerated of any state in America, and the biggest reason was low-end drug crimes. So I could not support legalization without having a symmetrical lookback, and we’ve done that, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Cruz didn’t seem satisfied, and he pushed back at the governor’s answer.

“We’re talking about pardoning, which you could’ve done as soon as you became governor,” the moderator noted.

“Yeah, but 362,000 expungements, David!” the governor replied. “That’s not like one or two. That’s a huge first step. Whether or not we ultimately get to pardoning – I leave open as an option. But that’s a huge – that’s a lot of lives that are put back on their feet, and I’m proud of that.”

Former governor Chris Christie did take advantage of his clemency rights during his first term, issuing a pardon as early as his first year in office.


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There are 1 Comments to "Governor Murphy Won’t Say Whether He Plans to Pardon Anyone Soon"

  • Ploni Almoni says:

    Although there are many people who should be pardoned, it doesn’t say anywhere that a governor is required to pardon people.

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