Youth engage in letter-writing campaign for tougher drug laws

“Do you know how it feels to be a kid and to think that drugs are more important to your dad than you are? … I do.”

This teenager’s frustration is among many shared in over 234 letters that have been sent to Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, State Senator Donald Norcross, and Gov. Chris Christie, as part of a letter writing campaign to encourage New Jersey law makers to make the needed revisions to the Drug Offense Restraining Order Act of 1999.

The campaign follows a community meeting with Assemblyman Fuentes, Assemblyman Wilson and State Senator Norcross that was held last month at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in East Camden.

The CCOP (Camden Churches Organized for People) group at St. Joseph’s learned recently that the proposed bill A 2416 needed to be revised. Fearing that this legislative hurdle will slow down the process St. Joseph’s/CCOP leaders decided to keep the pressure on by sharing the deeply personal and upsetting stories from youth and adults from their church community.

“This has confirmed not only how resilient Camden teenagers are, but how much we owe it to them to fight to give them more than a ride home from a church event,” said Kristin Prinn, CCOP leader and youth director at St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral.

An elementary age child in East Camden writes, “I’m tired of hearing of the people getting killed.” A suburban family outside the city writes, “For 15 years we lived a life of hell, giving us an inside look of the damnable world of drug addiction.”

“The power is in the hands of our lawmakers to rewrite the bill and pass it so Camden and all New Jersey police departments can actually do something with it,” said Teresa Reyes, CCOP leader from East Camden. “We don’t just want a bill that looks good on paper; we want a bill that gives our police department the power to keep drug offenders out of our neighborhoods.”

St. Joseph’s/CCOP leaders plan to run the letter writing campaign until there is a bill that accomplishes the task at hand. They have already sent 234 letters.

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