Violence Epidemic in NJ Could Prompt Special Legislative Session
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) wants to hold a special session of the New Jersey Legislature this summer to deal with the state's growing violence epidemic.
"I'm hoping that we can have a special session of the Legislature to discuss all of the crime-related bills and include a broad-based discussion on violence," Bramnick said. "As soon as we do that, the public will understand that the Legislature is taking it seriously."
Bramnick said he plans to reach out to Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) and ask him to join the push for a special session.
New Jersey has seen an epidemic of violence, including the recent murder of Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, as well as a number of shootings in Camden, Newark, Jersey City, Trenton and Patterson.
For months, Bramnick has been introducing legislation to tackle the state's violence problem, and he's hoping current events will encourage the Legislature to take action.
"We need to make it more apparent to criminals that they're more likely to go to jail and less likely to get an early release. We have seen an epidemic of violence - children shot in the streets as a result of crossfire, police officers shot point blank." Bramnick said.
One bill sponsored by Bramnick would make all forms of sexual assault subject to sentencing under the No Early Release Act. Another would increase the maximum penalty for attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. A third measure upgrades the crime of threatening to physically harm a prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or a member of their family to a crime of the second degree.
Another bill backed by Bramnick would create the first degree crime of home invasion, and upgrades burglary of a residence to a second degree crime under certain circumstances. The leader also introduced legislation which provides that the presumption of non-imprisonment for certain third and fourth degree crimes does not apply to a person convicted of theft of a firearm.
Finally, Bramnick has a bill which clarifies that a so-called "knockout game" assault, which is an assault by a person attempting to cause someone to lose consciousness by a single punch or kick, would be graded as a third degree aggravated assault.
"There are individuals and legislators who believe that punishment is not the answer to criminal acts. To me, it's one of the answers," Bramnick explained.