These articles that I write should give you some insight to what is going on in criminal justice reform, but there are some behind the scenes actions as well. Some of it I may have had a part in, for example, in May 2013 I sent my recidivism article to NJ Gov. Chris Christie. I heard nothing, so in May 2014 I sent it again. Later in that year Martin’s Place opened in Jersey City, NJ to much fanfare to help justice-involved individuals make the transition from prison to the community. Former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey was appointed as Executive Director, and he made some real efforts to advocate for these justice-involved individuals. My wife and I met him at a rest stop on the NJ Turnpike during the summer of 2017 while we were on our way to a friend’s home in Maryland. I had also sent him a copy of my book, In the Matter of Edwin Potter, and he recognized me straight away – coming around the car to shake my hand 5 or 6 times. We had a brief conversation, then we went our separate ways. In January 2019 he lost his job as Executive Director at Martin’s Place. (The Star Ledger, January 8, 2019) It was said to have been political.
I sent US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) a copy of my recidivism article back in August of 2015 and the book in December 2016. I never heard from him, but in December of 2018 he submitted a significant bill to the US Senate for criminal justice reform. (The Star Ledger, Dec. 20, 2018) Did he read the book? I also never heard from current NJ Governor Phil Murphy after I sent him the book in January 2018, but I did hear from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo after I sent him a copy of the recidivism article back in 2014!
There are several other elected NJ officials who I sent my book to, but there is one who is much maligned, and one would never expect a response from: President Donald Trump. In March 2017 I sent him a copy of my book along with a letter, and I did not hear from him for the longest time. Then I was surprised to receive a letter from him dated Nov. 6, 2018 expressing his intent and commitment “to [help] former inmates become productive, law-abiding members of society.” I thanked him and in January 2019 reminded him that there was no mention of the mentally ill who are incarcerated. I’ve been told by people who deal with the mentally ill that my book provides them with hope. I am hoping for a positive response from the President.