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Shaneen's Law: Restoring Justice in New Jersey

When 27-year-old Shaneen Allen was pulled over for an unsafe lane change last October, she had no idea she would soon face the full force of a New Jersey prosecutor set on sending her to prison.

Shaneen, a licensed concealed carrier from Philadelphia, was on her way to a birthday party for her son. When giving the officer her license she told him she did have her firearm and did haver her carry license. New Jersey, however, is one of 20 states that does not recognize Pennsylvania's license. Shaneen soon found herself in jail, where she would spend 40 days before making bail.

At a recent pre-trial hearing a judge brought up the possibility of entering Shaneen into the Pre-Trial Intervention program (PTI). The prosecutor's response shows just how far New Jersey will go to criminalize gun owners - and a complete abdication of prosecutorial discretion,

"The prosecutor determined the facts of this case harm done to society by abandoning criminal prosecution, the strong need to deter this defendant and others, outweigh the benefits to society of channeling the defendant into the supervisory program."

When asked by the judge what harm would come to society by placing the law-abiding single mother into a diversionary program, the prosecutor could only answer "Defendant is charged with a 2nd degree offense."

State Assemblyman Ron Dancer calls Shaneen's case a travesty of justice and says,

We need to amend what's known as the Graves act in the State of New Jersey where there is this mandatory sentence so that an individual is not going to face mandatory prison time with no criminal record. There is a public need to right the wrong.

Assemblyman Michael Carol says,

It's a dumb statute. And if she's convicted, the judge has no discretion. There just is no logical reason for doing that except that if you are in NJ and you have a weapon you are presumptively guilty of something. Congratulations you're a felon.

Despite a recommendation that Shaheen would benefit from the pre-trial intervention program, the prosecutor used her discretion to remove that option and move forward with criminal prosecution under the mandatory minimums.

Shaneen's attorney sums it up best,
Her case is sending a message about turning individuals into victims. About how bad New Jersey's gun laws are and get a national reciprocity law passed already.