First Lady of NJ on Racial Disparities Across the State
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the New Jersey Reentry Conference to speak with Tammy Snyder Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey, about racial disparity in New Jersey regarding incarceration; infant and maternal mortality rates; combating recidivism; and the opioid crisis facing the nation.
"Steve Adubato. More importantly, we are here at the Annual Reentry Conference. This is held by the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. It's called The Road to Salvation: From Addiction to Employment. We're in Jersey City at Saint Peter's University. There are several folks that are here today. Prominent folks. Important folks. People who care deeply about reentry of those who have been in prison and the question of addiction. And one of those folks is with us right now. We've had the honor of interviewing the First Lady of the great state of New Jersey many times, Tammy Snyder Murphy. Good to see you. Good to see you too. You just spoke at this conference. Opening remarks. The main message was and is? Essentially, that we... it's a moral obligation to fix our racial disparity in our state. And particularly, a racial disparity as... with respect to incarceration. And for me, infant and maternal mortality, which is connected. Do you think most folks understand the severity of this problem unless they are experiencing it themselves? I do not think most folks pay attention. Honestly. Sadly. Which is hard to fathom. We have the highest rate of incarceration in the country. We have... New Jersey does? New Jersey. 41,000 people in New Jersey are incarcerated right now. 10,000 of those people will be let out of jail this year, and of those 10,000 who are let out, you will find that 50% of them are going to be rearrested, and 30% of them are gonna go back to jail. You know, if you look at the fact that it costs $54,000 a year, per person, to keep someone incarcerated, versus what Jim McGreevey is doing at $2,200 to help people reenter society? It's a no-brainer. We have to fix this. We can fix it. A very serious discussion. But the addiction part of it. Talk to us about that. You've got the incarceration issue complicated by the opioid crisis - the addiction crisis - makes it even harder to reenter find employment, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. There's no question. I mean, I look at this almost exclusively through the lens of infant and maternal health outcomes. A big focus of yours? A big focus of mine. And you know, there is no question that there is systemic racism in our society. It's been there for a long time. And that is the biggest problem that we have with these mortality and recidivism rates. You know, when I look at the opioid crisis that you're talking about, I think about the fact that every 25 minutes across the United States, a child is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. That means that a child is born addicted to drugs every 25 minutes across our country, and that baby..."