The Union County Criminal Court, in State v. Arroyo-Nunez, has upended the State Attorney General’s directive, which eliminated mandatory minimum jail sentences for non-violent drug offenses, including cannabis possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone, which has a mandatory minimum of one year in prison. The school zone law only affected Blacks and Hispanics who live in Camden, Newark, and Jersey City, because the entirety of each city was an un-demarcated School Zone.
The school zone law, which the trial court wants to endorse, is decidedly racist. The New Jersey Sentencing Commission of 2005 found the law to be “profoundly discriminatory” because it did nothing to protect children and “ensnared” people of color. The Sentencing Commission recommended reducing the size of the school zone from 1,000 feet to 200 feet to eliminate the “profoundly discriminatory” impact. Yet, nothing has been done.