Peter J. Barnes, Jr.

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Peter J. Barnes, Jr. (born September 12, 1928 in East Providence, Rhode Island) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has served as Chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board since March 2007. He previously served in New Jersey's General Assembly from 1996 to 2007, where he represented the 18th legislative district. In the Assembly, he served as the Majority Whip from 2002 to 2007.


On February 5, 2007, Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine nominated Barnes to serve as Chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board. In mid-March, he resigned his Assembly seat to assume the Parole Board Chairmanship.[1] On March 14, 2007, Barnes was confirmed by the New Jersey Senate and Barnes' son, Edison Councilman Peter J. Barnes III, was chosen to fill his father's vacant seat.[2]

Before his departure, Barnes served on the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee (Chair), the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee and the Human Services Committee.[3]

Legislation (1996-2007)[edit]

During his ten plus years in the Assembly, Barnes was the primary sponsor of 62 bills that were signed into law.

He authored several major pieces of legislation, including a landmark bill that was signed into law in 2004 creating the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing. This research outlet is composed of key representatives of the criminal justice system, who serve without compensation, and are charged with promoting sound sentencing policy founded on the basic principles of public safety, proportionality and fairness. After conducting empirically-based research, this deliberative body is charged with making recommendations to the Legislature on appropriate amendments to the State's sentencing code.

To honor the death of New Brunswick Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy D'heron, who was killed in the line of duty on September 3, 2004, Barnes also introduced a bill that was signed into law [1] in 2006, which established certain hiring preferences for the children of firefighters and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In June 2006, Michael D'heron, Jimmy's son, was hired by the New Brunswick Fire Department. For the Assemblyman's efforts, he was honored by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.

Barnes also sponsored legislation that created stricter regulation of unlicensed, unsupervised, and untrained bounty hunters [2]; created a law aimed at keeping common bomb-making materials away from terrorists [3]; and given state and local law enforcement officers more tools to investigate online sex crimes against children [4].

Before resigning his seat, the Assemblyman introduced a controversial piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 2877 [5], which would have reduced drug-free school and public property zones from 1,000 to 200 feet. This bill was introduced in response to a report issued by a blue-ribbon panel, the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, which strongly argued that the current drug-free school zone laws do not serve as the deterrent that they were purported to be. While this legislation remains the subject of some debate, it has received praise from the editorial page of The Star-Ledger [6], New Jersey's largest newspaper. In addition, this report and subsequent legislation generated national attention and was reported in a variety of national daily newspapers.[4]

Law enforcement career[edit]

Barnes served in the United States Army from 1946-1948 as a Private First Class in the Military Police.

At age 25, Barnes was hired as a Special Agent for the F.B.I. where he served as an Assistant Senior Supervisory Agent and was responsible for investigating numerous violations of Federal Criminal Statutes.

In his first year, 1954, Barnes was assigned to F.B.I. San Francisco [7], where he served until 1957. During his time there, he investigated cases involving bank robberies, Soviet espionage, and kidnappings. In 1956, he worked on the Stephanie Bryant kidnapping case, which at that time was the most prominent kidnapping case the State of California had ever seen.

In 1958, Barnes was transferred to New Jersey, where he worked at F.B.I. Headquarters in Newark [8]. He would spend the rest of his F.B.I. career in New Jersey, working at the F.B.I. New Brunswick and ending his career in 1980 at F.B.I. Piscataway. While in New Jersey, he was responsible for investigating cases involving white-collar crime, bank robberies, and internal security.

In 1981, Barnes became the Director of Security for the New Jersey Devils Hockey Team where he served until 1995.

Barnes began his public service in 1991 by serving as the Director of Public Safety in Edison, New Jersey. Only six months into his new position, Barnes led the Edison Police Department [9] as it engaged in a two-day hostage standoff with John Arias, a 22-year-old Connecticut man. On June 1, 1991, The New York Times reported [5] that Arias went to the home of his 20-year-old former girlfriend who had recently filed sexual assault charges against him, shot her four times, then locked himself in her Edison home where he killed the woman's mother, 38, and took her 9-year-old brother hostage.

With his F.B.I. training, Barnes ran the hostage negotiating team, which included one-on-one telephone contact with the hostage taker, Mr. Arias. The situation concluded one-day later at 7 p.m. when Barnes and his Deputy Chief, Anthony Calomoneri, were determined to "lay it on the line and get tough." They decided to send an armed personnel carrier rumbling up toward the house in an effort to scare the suspect into surrendering. Clearly shaken by this maneuver, John Arias phoned the police and said, "I'll be out in five seconds. Let me put my shoes on." The boy followed and was unharmed. Arias was subsequently sentenced to Life in Prison plus 50 years. He will not be eligible for parole until 2041.

Barnes remained the Director of Public Safety in Edison until 1993.

Following, he served East Brunswick Township as Director of Public Safety in 1997. He then returned again in 2005. Both times, he served the Township in an unpaid capacity.


Barnes received a B.A. from Providence College in Political Science. He has done Post-Baccalaureate work at Kean College in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the F.B.I. Crime Resistance and Hostage Negotiating Schools and of the F.B.I. Management Training Program.


Peter J. Barnes resides with his wife Barbara in Edison, New Jersey. As of 2006, they have four children and 10 grandchildren:

District 18[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 18th Legislative District are:


  1. ^ Barnes to head parole board, Home News Tribune by Gina Vergel, February 6, 2007
  2. ^ Assembly OKs online database of Legislature's votes, Home News Tribune by Gregory J. Volpe, March 15, 2007
  3. ^ Assembly Committees, accessed February 8, 2007
  4. ^ National Sentencing News, New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  5. ^ Wolff, Craig (1991-06-01). "Hostage Is Freed to End Standoff After a Slaying". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  6. ^ Peter J. Barnes III - Edison councilmember profile, accessed April 6, 2007 Archived March 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]