Shaneen Allen is living a nightmare. The Pennsylvania resident and lawful gun owner of one week fell prey to New Jersey's strict gun laws and was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in the state. While the single mother of two young children is facing up to three and a half years in prison, one New Jersey lawmaker is trying to correct this miscarriage of justice.
Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced "Shaneen's Law," legislation that would give judges the option of not sending citizens like Shaneen Allen to prison. In Allen's case, the director of a pre-trial intervention system identified her as a good candidate for the program, which would have left her without a criminal record. But the prosecutor denied her access to PTI—and because of mandatory sentencing for firearm offenses in the state, the judge had no discretion to give her a lighter sentence.