A surprising lawbreaker in mandated public reporting? New Jersey’s government

July 28, 2023

Reports on assets seized by cops, sexual assault remain in the works years after lawmakers required them

Three and a half years ago, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law requiring police departments to publicly report on property they seize from the public during criminal investigations.

Disclosing the details of civil asset forfeitures — which are worth millions that police keep — would boost confidence in the justice system, Murphy said in January 2020 when announcing the new law.

“Allowing the public to understand how assets are being seized, where seized funds go, and where forfeited property is going is a huge step forward for transparency and accountability,” Murphy said then.

But the huge step promised instead became a stumble, because that public reporting never happened.

It wasn’t a one-off…

Spokespeople for the state Department of Education didn’t respond to a request for comment.

But a research manager at the Rutgers University-based Executive Leadership Council of the New Jersey Education to Earnings Data System, which was tasked with issuing reports based on data supplied by the state, attributed delays to data collection challenges and funding.

“Some of the requirements of the legislation that were mandated are data elements that weren’t previously reported by or collected by the Department of Education,” said Stephanie Walsh, research property manager at Rutgers’ John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, where the data system is housed. “So they’ve had to implement new data collection practices, which they’re currently doing.”

The law that mandated reporting also didn’t include funding for it, but the most recent state budget earmarks up to $500,000 for the data system. Walsh expects to issue a report by March.

New Jersey Monitor, July 28 2023

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