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Institute Launches Campaign on June 28 to Close Youth Prisons and Reinvest in a Community-Based System of Care

On June 28, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the Youth Justice New Jersey coalition will launch a campaign outside of the New Jersey Training School for Boys (“Jamesburg”)—New Jersey's largest youth prison—to demand that it and the girls' prison, the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (“Hayes”), be closed.

“On June 28, 1867, Jamesburg opened its doors,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO. “And on June 28, 2017, we will launch a campaign outside of Jamesburg’s prison doors to declare that 150 years of youth incarceration is enough. We are lifting our collective voices to transform New Jersey's youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care.”

More than forty organizations, including the NAACP State Conference, the ACLU of New Jersey, the New Jersey Black Issues Convention, the Drug Policy Alliance, Faith in New Jersey, houses of worship, and My Brother's Keeper-Newark have signed on-to a letter supporting this campaign.

Brick City Live: NJISJ gears up to combat youth incarceration with community help

Brick City Live reports:

On June 28th, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice will launch a grassroots campaign to end what the called “New Jersey’s failed experiment of youth incarceration” by engaging in action to close Hayes and Jamesburg – the state’s girls’ youth prison and the largest youth prison for boys, respectively.

The campaign is timed to coincided with the opening of Jamesburg on June 28, 1867–150 years ago.

Scott NovaKowski Delivers Testimony on Institute's Priority Issues

Institute Associate Counsel and Debevoise Fellow Scott Novakowski delivered testimony at the New Jersey Black Issues Convention and Legislative Black Caucus 2017 Annual Conference:

Sign-On to Close New Jersey's Youth Prisons

The Institute is collecting organizational signatories on a letter urging our elected leaders to close New Jersey's youth prisons. To add your organization's name, please email ewgreenberg@njisj.org:

June 2017

Dear Governor Chris Christie, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, Juvenile Justice Commission Executive Director Kevin Brown, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto:

Imagine what could be done in a kid’s life with $200,000 each year.  New Jersey spends that amount—an incredible $200,000—to incarcerate one child for one year in a youth prison.

On June 28, 1867, the New Jersey Training School for Boys, also known as Jamesburg, New Jersey’s largest youth prison, opened its doors.

Since then, thousands of children have passed through its gates.

And on June 28, 2017, its 150th anniversary, the undersigned organizations will launch a campaign outside of Jamesburg’s prison doors to declare that 150 years of youth incarceration is enough. This campaign, at its core, seeks to achieve racial and social justice for our state’s young people.

As organizations committed to advancing social justice in New Jersey, we are lifting our collective voices to transform New Jersey's youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care by closing Jamesburg and Hayes—the state’s girls’ youth prison.

By shifting focus away from youth incarceration toward community-based programs—supported by state funding through the Juvenile Justice Commission’s state/community partnership program—we can ensure that our youth receive the rehabilitation they need to mature and grow.  

And for those young people who may need to be placed in secure confinement for public safety reasons, we must make sure that that these facilities are small, publicly operated, developmentally appropriate, and treatment centered, and provide wrap-around services that are close to home and familial support—not faraway youth prisons.  These publicly-run facilities should be staffed with public workers who are dedicated to the full rehabilitation of our children and to creating a more humane, treatment-focused justice system.  We believe that it is consistent to advocate for meaningful, public jobs for workers and a more humane, treatment-focused justice system for our young people.

To be clear, however, we cannot support perpetuating New Jersey’s failed system of youth incarceration. It has proven to be ineffective, racially discriminatory, and destructive to youth and their families. It is a moral stain on our state.  For more information on the broken regime of youth incarceration in our state, please see the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s  recent report “Bring our Children Home: Ain’t I a Child?” here.  

The undersigned organizations have joined this campaign and signed on to this letter because 150 years is enough.

Incredibly, two-thirds of kids incarcerated in New Jersey's youth prisons are Black, even though Black and white youth commit most offenses at similar rates.  By contrast, less than six percent of kids in youth prison in the state, or less than 15 kids, are white. This gives New Jersey the 3rd-highest Black/white youth incarceration disparity rate in the nation.

Put simply, our state’s youth justice system treats certain kids as kids, unless they are Black or Brown.  

In New Jersey, of the approximately 500 young people released from commitment in state juvenile facilities in 2012, 80% had a new court filing/arrest, 68% had a new adjudication/conviction, and nearly 33% were recommitted within three years of release.

Studies have shown that long-term juvenile incarceration actually increases recidivism rates and hinders development, and children who are incarcerated are also more likely to be imprisoned and live in poverty as adults.

We seek to fundamentally reimagine our youth justice system by closing Jamesburg and Hayes youth prisons and investing in community-based intervention, prevention, diversion, and alternatives-to-incarceration programming for our youth.

Toward that end, we speak with one voice when we declare: 150 years is enough. It is time for us to close Jamesburg and Hayes, and to collectively create a community-based system of care for our young people.

 

June 28 Rally: #150yearsisenough

On June 28, we will launch a grassroots campaign to end New Jersey's failed experiment of youth incarceration by, among other things, closing Hayes and Jamesburg - the state's girls' youth prison and the largest youth prison for boys, respectively.

On June 28, 1867 Jamesburg opened. And, on June 28, 2017, we say: 150 years is enough!

Not only is our current youth incarceration system plagued by unacceptable racial disparities, but it is also extraordinarily expensive (costing more than $200,000 per year to incarcerate each child); it hinders our young people's development; and it does not advance public safety.

The campaign will urge New Jersey to transform its youth justice system by re-investing funds from closing Hayes and Jamesburg youth prisons into developing and strengthening community-based intervention, prevention, diversion, and alternatives-to-incarceration programming for our youth.

In this moment, change will come, as it always has, from the ground up in our communities.

If you plan to attend the rally, please email Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager Retha Onitiri at ronitiri@njisj.org. Attendees at the rally can park at the Daniel P. Ryan Memorial Field Parking Lot (in front of the football field), located at 34 North State Home Road in Monroe Township, NJ 08831.

 
#150yearsisenough!

Take a Photo to Show Your Support for the #150yearsisenough Campaign

Take a photo with this flyer showing that you support the #150yearsisenough campaign. Send the photo to Communications Director Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg at ewgreenberg@njisj.org and we will post on our social media pages.

Ryan_NJISJ_Closure.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

NPD Use of Force & Bias Free Policing Policies to be Reviewed at Community Meeting on June 27

On Tuesday, June 27, the Institute and the Independent Monitor Peter Harvey will host a community forum to discuss the Newark Police Division's draft Use of Force and Bias-Free Policing policies. The Use of Force policy can be found here. The Bias-Free Policing policy can be found here. The forum will be held at NAN Newark Tech World, located at 400 Hawthorne Ave., in Newark, from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm.
The forum will consist of two panels with representatives from the NPD, the Independent Monitoring Team, and the Newark community, and will be followed by facilitated discussions. 
"It is critical that Newark residents weigh in on these draft policies that will impact the daily lives of police and residents," said Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO. The Institute is a member of the federal monitoring team. "Transformative change can only come with the active participation, input, and leadership of Newark residents."  
 
For those who cannot attend the June 27 forum, they can submit comments on the policies via the Independent Monitor's website by clicking here
On Monday, June 19 the Monitor and the Institute are also hosting a conversation with the Monitor, Peter Harvey, to discuss the First Quarterly Report for the Newark police. This event will occur at St. Stephan’s Church, located at 7 Wilson Avenue in Newark, NJ, at 6:30 pm.
 
Last year, a federal court approved a panel of experts—led by Mr. Harvey, a former New Jersey Attorney General—to serve as the Independent Monitoring Team of the Newark Department of Public Safety's Police Division, in accordance with a settlement reached by the Department of Justice and the City of Newark.
 
More information on the Consent Decree and the Independent Monitoring Team can be found here. The First Quarterly Report can be found here.

Demelza Baer in Asbury Park Press: Equality of economic opportunity unfinished business

Institute Policy Counsel Demelza Baer writes in the Asbury Park Press:

While the overall unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent this month, stark racial disparities nevertheless persist. Nationally, the unemployment rate for white people is only 3.7 percent, but it jumps to 5.2 percent among Latinos and 7.5 percent among Blacks...

These statistics mirror our findings on employment in Newark in our recent report, “Bridging the Two Americas: Employment & Economic Opportunity in Newark & Beyond.” Despite having a higher labor force participation rate than the national average, people of color in Newark have the highest unemployment rates in the city, with black residents experiencing an unemployment rate that is double that of white residents. Since the labor force only includes people who are working or who have been actively looking for work in the past four weeks, this means that a greater proportion of people of color in Newark want to be working than the national average...

Several New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidates Support Key Proposals of the Institute’s Social Justice Vision Platform

Several gubernatorial candidates support key proposals in the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s (“Institute”) platform document, including raising the minimum wage, closing New Jersey’s youth prisons and reinvesting in the creation of a community-based system of care, and restoring the right to vote to people with criminal convictions, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Institute. The survey was distributed to each of the candidates for governor following the sold out social justice gubernatorial forum hosted by the Institute and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference at NJPAC in May, which attracted more than 600 people from the community. 

“The Institute’s Social Justice Vision details policy proposals that will help make our state a standard bearer for social, economic, and racial justice,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO. “We are heartened to see that so many of the candidates for governor embrace these proposals which, if enacted, will chart a progressive path forward for New Jersey. We will work closely with our many partners across New Jersey to ensure that our next governor is accountable to this social justice agenda.”


Each gubernatorial candidate from the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties received a copy of the Institute’s platform agenda, “A Social Justice Vision for New Jersey” (“Vision”), as well as a survey requesting their positions on each of the Vision’s policy proposals.
 A copy of the Vision document can be found here and a copy of the survey can be found here.

Democratic candidates Bill Brennan, Jim Johnson, Senator Ray Lesniak, Ambassador Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and Councilman Mark Zinna, as well as Green Party candidate Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale returned the survey.

As requested by the survey, each of the candidates but Murphy checked off yes or no for each proposal. For his part, Murphy provided written explanations for each answer.

Click the links below for a copy of each candidates' completed survey:

Brennan

Johnson

Kaper-Dale

Lesniak

Murphy

Wisniewski

Zinna

Three Ways You Can Help Close NJ's Youth Prisons

On June 28, 1867, the New Jersey Training School for Boys (aka Jamesburg) opened.

And on June 28, 2017, we say: 150 years is enough!

We are lifting our collective voices to transform New Jersey's youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care by closing Hayes and Jamesburg—the state’s girls’ youth prison and the largest youth prison for boys, respectively. 

Here is how you can help close these youth prisons:

 
1. Join us at our #150yearsisenough campaign meeting on Monday, June 12 from 5:30 - 7:00 pm at Bethany Baptist Church, located at 275 West Market Street in Newark. At this meeting, we will prepare for our rally on June 28 outside Jamesburg.
Please bring your ideas, creativity, and sign-making materials! For more information, please contact Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager Retha Onitiri at ronitiri@njisj.org.
 
2. Sign on-to our letter to New Jersey's elected leaders telling them that 150 years is enough and Jamesburg and Hayes must be closed. Please note: this letter is for organizations only. A copy of the letter can be found here. If your organization wishes to sign on, please email NJISJ Communications Director Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg at ewgreenberg@njisj.org.
 
3. Mark your calendars for June 28 when we will rally outside Jamesburg and help spread the word! Please email Retha at ronitiri@njisj.org if you plan to attend. Stay tuned for details on transportation to the rally.