TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips warned Democrats in September about their misguided legislation that would release prisoners early due to the Covid pandemic. Now, an 18-year-old is dead at the hands of one of those early released prisoners.
“Awarding early release to prisoners because of Covid is counterproductive to the deterrent effect of punishment. Violent criminals should not benefit under this legislation,” DePhillips (R-Bergen) said at the time.
The legislation, S2519, allowing the early release of certain inmates and parolees during the public health emergency, cleared the state Assembly in a 41-33 vote, gaining just the minimum number of votes needed to pass the lower house. Gov. Phil Murphy signed it into law in October and more than 2,000 prisoners were freed from prison, including the accused killer, in early November.
“The Murphy administration is responsible for the spread of Covid in prisons, and also in part for this young man’s murder,” DePhillips said. “There were other ways to control the outbreaks in prisons, but Democrats chose to let dangerous, and even Covid-positive criminals, back into society to wreak havoc on the health and safety of law-abiding citizens.”
Jerry Crawford was serving charges for burglary in Bridgeton’s South Woods State Prison before being released early on public health emergency credits. He has been charged with shooting and killing Davion Scarbrough, whose body was found less than half a mile from the prison.