New Jersey Has the Highest Black/white Youth Committment/Detention Disparity Rate in the Country

The Institute issued the following statement in response to data released from The Sentencing Project that shows New Jersey has the worst Black/white youth commitment/detention racial disparity rate in the country:


Institute's Demelza Baer Interviewed on Census Data

Demelza Baer, Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative, spoke with the Star Ledger and NJ Spotlight on the new Census data on poverty and inequality.

From the Star Ledger:

Demelza Baer, senior counsel for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, points to several possible factors as to why New Jersey has fallen behind in closing the gender gap.

New Jersey has seen a "hollowing out" of middle class wage earners as reflected in the state's high income inequality, Baer said...

Also, there are still structural barriers for women in the workforce to advance to better paying jobs -- the lack of inexpensive child care and discrimination in employment and job promotion, experts say.  

"We need to have policy responses to this," Baer said. "What we need to see is more of a specific effort to make sure that women, especially women of color, are on track to join middle skills jobs [that require more than a high school but less than a bachelor's degree] that pay a living wage and allow for upward mobility."

Demelza Baer's Work Featured in Governing

Governing reports: 

In Newark, N.J., where the unemployment rate is well above the state and national average, less than 20 percent of the jobs are filled by Newark residents. In Baltimore, a third of residents have jobs in the city where they live. In New Orleans, it’s 46 percent.

Among the city's 20 biggest employers -- colleges, hospitals and corporate headquarters -- only three percent of the money they spend on buying goods and services goes to vendors in Newark.

This helps to explain why one in three Newark residents live below the poverty line and why the city lost population for decades. But Newark Mayor Ras Baraka wants to turn those numbers around. His solution -- an initiative called Hire. Buy. Live. -- could provide other local governments with a playbook, some say, for spurring economic development in a way that prioritizes the welfare of residents...

Scott Novakowski on Comcast Newsmakers: We Must Decouple Voting Rights from Criminal Convictions

Institute Associate Counsel Scott Novakowski talks with Comcast Newsmakers about why we must restore voting rights to people with criminal convictions.

Please click here to watch the segment. 

Demelza Baer writes for the Star Ledger: Charlottesville Is Us

Demelza Baer, Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative, writes for the Star Ledger:

Many of the white supremacists arrived brandishing flags and symbols of the Confederacy and Nazi Germany, openly bearing weapons, and shouting racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic chants.  That day, one of the marchers allegedly drove his car into a large crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer, and injuring many others.  That same day, two state troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the events unfolding.

In response, people across the country repudiated the white supremacists and their messages of hate, and the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs began trending.

Unfortunately, it is us.

People of color, religious and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities have not yet achieved full equality in the United States.  And, every time that people of color achieve significant progress towards equality, it's met with an inevitable backlash and period of retrenchment. 

Make no mistake: we are at a critical point in our democracy and history as a nation, and staying on the sidelines is not an option.

Planetizen: Ensuring Newark's Revival Doesn't Make it the Next Brooklyn

Citing Senior Counsel Demelza Baer's report, Bridging the Two Americas, Irvin David writes for Planetizen on the need to make sure that Newark does not become the next Brooklyn:

Fast forward to today, and the city still has its socio-economic problems.

"Poverty in Newark remains at a rate well above the national average, and only 18 percent of the people who hold jobs in Newark live here, according to a report from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; in other large cities that figure is often between 30 and 50 percent."

For example, "[i]n New Orleans, local residents hold 46 percent of jobs; in Detroit, local residents hold 25 percent of jobs," according to the institute's report, "Bridging the Two Americas: Employment & Economic Opportunity in Newark & Beyond," released last April.

The major tools to avoid gentrification include a local hiring program and inclusionary zoning for larger developments that Baraka is trying to get the city council to approve.

Institute Statement on Charlottesville

"The unmasked white supremacist hatred and violence in Charlottesville is yet another jarring reminder of the significant work that must be done to achieve racial justice in our country, our states, and our local communities," said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. "Meaningful condemnation of and healing from what happened in Charlottesville requires that we all challenge the policies and practices that do violence to our pursuit of racial justice right here in New Jersey.  Alongside our partners throughout New Jersey and in solidarity with partners across the nation, we will continue to advance a transformative vision for social justice from the ground up in our communities. This is our call to action. Let us, together, answer that call.”

150 Years is Enough: Make Your Voice Heard

We are building this robust campaign from our communities up, powered by partners like you.  To help us keep our youth in their communities, and out of youth prisons, we ask you to join us in taking the following three steps today:   

1.      MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Call the legislators from Middlesex and Burlington counties to tell them you support closing Jamesburg and Hayes and creating a community-based system of care. Please click here for a listing of legislators, their contact information, and a script.

2.      LEARN ABOUT AVAILABLE RESOURCES! What will a community-based system of care look like? What youth programming is currently available in your county? Learn the answers to these questions by contacting your county’s Youth Services Commission. Each county’s Youth Services Commission is responsible for county youth programming, from prevention and diversion, through reentry services. Please click here for a listing of Youth Services Commissions.

3.      BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR THE 150 YEARS IS ENOUGH CAMPAIGN!  Help us recruit volunteers; share information; assist with Campaign rallies and events; and join us in advocating for a new youth justice system. Youth and families who have been directly impacted by the juvenile justice system are strongly encouraged to join us as advocates. For more information, please contact our Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager Retha Onitiri at