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



Institute Releases Community Resource Guide for Newark

The Institute is pleased to share our Community Resource Guide for Newark, which was developed at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice to provide the people of Newark with a comprehensive listing of the many resources that are available to residents -- including employment training opportunities, activities for families, food banks, and public library resources. Please access the guide at this link.

This guide would not have been possible without the significant input and recommendations of many of our community-based partner organizations included in this guide, as well as the dedication and time of our staff and interns.

If you or your organization would like a printed copy of the guide, please email our Communications Director Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg at
with the number of copies requested and your mailing address. 

New York Times: A Revival Comes to Newark, but Some Worry It's 'Not For Us'

The New York Times reports:

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.

“We knew that, ultimately, in order to transform the city, we had to attack poverty and unemployment,” Mr. Baraka said. “I think we have an opportunity here, because everybody is at the table, and they probably haven’t been at the table in this magnitude in a very long time, if ever.”

Next City Highlights Demelza Baer's Report, "Bridging the Two Americas"

Next City reports:

Today, overall reported crime is down to its lowest level in 50 years, according to data provided by City Hall, but crime and poverty still remain a challenge. According to a policy report published this year by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, almost 70 percent of Newark residents earn less than $40,000 a year and 33 percent of the city’s black population lives in poverty.

But even through the lean years, the arts in Newark never died. Perhaps most significantly, the Newark of the late ’60s and ’70s gave rise to the Black Arts movement with the poet Amiri Baraka (his son Ras is now mayor) as its leader. The movement celebrated black culture and identity, and many of today’s Newark artists say Amiri Baraka’s devotion to art and to his community has been a source of inspiration...