101.5: Art by NJ youth who’ve been behind bars — A look into their minds

New Jersey 101.5 reports:

The event was part of the Institute's 150 Years is Enough campaign, which aims to transform the juvenile justice system by closing youth prisons and creating a community-based system of care.

"Our juvenile justice system is scarred by extreme racial disparities and recidivism," state Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, said in a statement. "This exhibition shares the artwork of those who have been incarcerated, enabling all of us to see their talents, stories, and limitless possibilities." Paterson Black History Month celebration honors community organizations reports:

The seventh annual Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Black History Month Celebration, hosted by Sen. Bob Menendez, was packed with local residents and visitors from other cities, including Jersey City and Irvington...

This year's honorees were the African American Chamber of Commerce, based in Trenton, for its work since 2007 with more than 66,000 African-American business owners in New Jersey, including entrepreneurship programs and technical assistance; the Newark-based African American Heritage Parade and Festival Organization, for its celebration of African-American history, including organizing the annual African American Heritage Statewide Parade and Festival in Newark; and the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, also in Newark, for its efforts in New Jersey's urban communities on such matters as economic mobility, criminal justice reform and civic engagement.

The American Prospect: Movement in the Fight for Voting Rights Restoration

The American Prospect reports:

New Jersey is another state that has a real chance to make significant change this year. With a new Democratic governor who campaigned on criminal justice reform, Democratic majorities in both houses, and legislation already filed by two veteran senators, the possibilities for success are real. A recent report issued by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) called "We Are Not 1844" [sic] makes note of the year felony disenfranchisement was passed and the 94,000 people currently disenfranchised... 

According to Scott Novakowski of the NJISJ, "This is a perfect time to take a look at a policy with such discriminatory impact and no public safety value. We can make New Jersey a model of what an inclusive democracy can look like."


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.”