Correctional News: New Jersey Enacts Law to Examine Racial Disparity in Sentencing

Correctional News reports:

Theoretically, with proper data analysis, policymakers can make more informed decisions regarding public safety issues without “aggravating existing racial disparities,” according to a statement issued by the Sentencing Project, an initiative that works for a fair and effective U.S. justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy. The organization, which worked with several state partners in pushing the legislation (including Rev. Charles Boyer who leads a coalition called Salvation and Social Justice, Drug Policy Alliance – NJ; ditto the ACLU of New Jersey) also advocates for alternatives to incarceration and seeks to address unjust racial disparities and practices. To that end, in 2016, a study by The Sentencing Project found that New Jersey has the nation’s highest rate of black/white disparity in incarceration.

“New Jersey has the worst black/white youth incarceration disparity rate in the country. Even though black and white kids commit most offenses at similar rates, a black child is, incredibly, 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white child. As a result, just 13 white children are incarcerated in New Jersey as of January of this year,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (the Institute) in a statement issued on its website in September 2017.

“We know that all kids can be saved. These striking racial disparities reflect racially discriminatory policy decisions that determine which kids get prison and which kids do not in New Jersey. We cannot support this shameful system of youth incarceration. It is, at its core, racialized, ineffective and destructive to youth and their families. It is a moral stain on our state,” Haygood’s statement continued.

In a prior report published by the Institute in December 2016, entitled “Bring Our Children Home: Ain’t I A Child,” it was found that black youth comprise nearly 75 percent of those committed to both secure and non-secure state juvenile facilities.

Star Ledger: Sure, Amazon would be great, but there are other signs Newark's on the rise

The Star Ledger reports

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show there were about 13,700 firms operating in Newark in 2002. According to the lastest available numbers from, 2012, there were 22,800 firms operating.

Yet Newarkers hold only 18 percent of all jobs in the city, according to a report from New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. In Baltimore, residents hold 33 percent of jobs; in Detroit, that number is 25 percent, the 2017 report said. 

Baraka is pushing a local-hiring initiative to make sure residents reap the benefits when major companies come to Newark. And with more eyes on Newark, that commitment -- should Amazon land in the city -- will be put to the test. 

"The mayor will personally hold their feet to the fire," Aisha Glover, CEO of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, said Thursday.

Mic: It's time to talk about voting rights for people with convictions

Check out Mic's video report on the Institute's work to restore voting rights to people with convictions featuring Associate Counsel Scott Novakowski and Intern Ron Pierce. 

Mic: With Christie gone people with convictions could finally get their voting rights

Mic reports:

But as Scott Novakowski outlined in a recent report by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the racism of many state disenfranchisement laws contain racist engineering. In Mississippi, the infractions that result in a loss of voting rights were carefully chosen to target black criminals instead of white criminals — those convicted of theft lose their voting rights, those convicted of murder still go to the ballot box.

“When we think of slavery, when we think of disenfranchisement, we think of the South,” said Cunningham, who has yet to speak to New Jersey’s new Governor Phil Murphy about the subject, told Mic at her office in Jersey City. “But we also need to look at ourselves.”


Jersey Journal: Should Amazon choose Newark for its second headquarters?

The Jersey Journal reports:

The stakes are high if the company chooses Newark.

Newarkers hold 18 percent of all jobs in the city, according to a report from New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 


Star Ledger: Newark believes it has a real shot to score Amazon HQ

The Star Ledger reports:

Newarkers hold 18 percent of all jobs in the city, according to a report from New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. In Baltimore, residents hold 33 percent of jobs; in Detroit the number is 25 percent, the 2017 report said. 

Star Ledger: Newark social justice group hails decision to close juvenile facility

The Star Ledger reports:

"The announcement was never just about closing these prisons," said Ryan Haygood, president and chief executive officer of NJISJ. "This was about transforming a broken system."

In its report, "Bring Our Children Home: Ain't I a Child?" the institute concluded that New Jersey's system of incarceration should be replaced with smaller cottage-like facilities focused on treatment, mental health services, counseling and education. 

In fact, Haygood said that in addition to the facilities to be built, New Jersey already has 12 residential programs across the state that are below capacity and can be used now to house some of its juvenile population.

Star Ledger Editorial Board: Kudos to Christie for closing pricey, mostly-empty youth prisons. Now what?

The Star Ledger Editorial Board writes:

Chris Christie's departing Attorney General, Chris Porrino, had it right:
There aren't many chances to save money by doing the right thing. But their plan to close two of New Jersey's most wasteful and ineffective youth prisons is one of them...
While New Jersey is a leader in reducing its youth prison population, Black kids are still far more likely to be arrested and imprisoned, rather than diverted to more humane and effective community programs.
What we need to do now is re-imagine what our youth justice system should look like. 


Black History Month 2018


Please join us at these upcoming events for Black History Month 2018:

FEBRUARY 6 at the Jersey City Public Library-Greenville: Join us for a discussion with New Jersey resident Jason Bost, author of "White Nigger: The Struggles and Triumphs Growing Up Bi-Racial in America." Bost chronicles his journey from high school dropout to law school graduate, eventually becoming a college professor and a lawyer. "White Nigger: The Struggles and Triumphs Growing Up Bi-Racial in America" is the critically acclaimed autobiography that does not shy away from the difficult issues of race, culture and poverty in America. Please click here for more information.

FEBRUARY 10 at the Newark Public Library: Demelza Baer, Institute Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative, will speak at the Black Lives Matter-Newark 2018 panel discussion, alongside Lori Scott-Pickens, Director of Community Outreach at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Newark; Robert L. Johnson, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine; and Fatimah Loren Muhammad, Director Trauma Advocacy Initiative at Equal Justice USA. Please click here for more information. 

FEBRUARY 13 at the Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County: Join us for a night of reflection on the legacy and future of the Bordentown School, New Jersey’s “Tuskegee of the North.” Institute Associate Counsel Andrea McChristian will preview her forthcoming report on transforming New Jersey’s girls’ youth prison—which now sits on the Bordentown School’s former grounds—back into a school that can once again serve as a source of uplift for New Jersey’s Black youth. The program will be followed by a tour of the museum. Please click here for more information. 

FEBRUARY 20 at the State House: Join us at the State House Annex in Goldfinch Square in Trenton from 12:00 to 1:30 PM for the Youth Justice New Jersey Art Exhibition and Video launch, featuring artwork created by justice-involved youth. This event is hosted by Senator Ron Rice and was produced in collaboration with coLAB Arts. Please click here for more information.