New Jersey’s NJTV current events program “Due Process” just won two New York Emmy Awards recently.
What does that have to do with drug policy reform, you ask? A lot.
The first Emmy was for a show on DPA’s Good Samaritan legislation. This bill provides legal protection from drug possession charges for those who call for help in an overdose emergency. DPA advocated for this bill for two years before it was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor vetoed the bill the first time it reached his desk but DPA and our allies kept fighting until the Governor changed his mind and signed the bill. The bill also included a provision to expand access to the life-saving opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.
The battle to get this life-saving legislation passed became a major news story in New Jersey and Gov. Christie’s change of heart on the issue made national news.
You can watch this award-winning show about DPA’s Good Samaritan legislation here.
The second Emmy went to NJTV’s show on bail reform. More than three-quarters of the people in New Jersey’s jails are there awaiting trial rather than serving a sentence. More than half of these individuals are being held for nonviolent offenses—often drug offenses. The average length of time they are held pending trial is about ten months.
That’s a ten-month sentence before they ever have their day in court. Many of these individuals could safely be released on bail pending trial but lack the financial resources to pay often nominal bail amounts.
DPA released a report last year that was a game-changer. For the first time ever the injustices of the current system were exposed. The report changed the conversation about pretrial justice and our campaign for bail reform is driving the debate.
You can watch this award-winning show here.
In both these cases, DPA fought to bring attention to failed policies and advocate for effective reforms. The conversations we started garnered major media attention and now some of that coverage has garnered awards.
Congratulations and thanks to “Due Process” for covering these important topics. And congratulations and thank you to all our allies and advocates who help us fight the good fight.
Roseanne Scotti is the New Jersey state director for the Drug Policy Alliance.