It’s Time to Decriminalize Syringes and Expunge Past Records

Testimony by Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel in support of decriminalization of syringes and expungement of past records.

Published on Nov 15, 2021 in Economic Justice, Health

Good morning, Chairman Mukherji, Vice-Chairwoman Murphy, and members of the committee. My name is Marleina Ubel and I am a Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). Thank you for this opportunity to submit testimony on New Jersey’s decriminalization of syringes and expungement of past records (A5458).

As I am sure you are aware, NJPP works to create a more equitable state for New Jersey residents through research and advocacy. In line with this mission, we support A5458. This bill is a step towards breaking the cycle of punishment, debt, and stigma for people living with a substance use disorder.

Syringes are also public health tools. Access to new syringes reduces the risk of skin infections and infectious diseases, such as, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Criminalizing syringes also puts first responders at greater risk for infections because people have to hide or improperly dispose of syringes due to fear of arrest.

Despite New Jersey law legalizing the purchase of syringes without a prescription, New Jerseyans continue to be charged for syringe possession, creating a system where people are arrested for possessing public health supplies that were legally purchased.

The Legislature can take steps to break the cycle of criminalization and reduce the spread of infectious disease by voting yes on A5458.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to testify.

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