The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice uses cutting-edge racial and social justice advocacy to empower people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice and harness democratic power—from the ground up—in New Jersey.






In December 2019 – as a result of the collective advocacy of the 1844 No More Campaign led by the Institute – Governor Murphy signed into law voting rights restoration for 83,000 people on probation and parole in New Jersey.

One of those 83,000 was Ron Pierce, the institute’s Democracy & Justice Fellow, whose political voice was silenced for 34 years.

Watch this screening of Voter, a 15-minute documentary about Ron’s journey from a family where voting was everything, to being incarcerated and losing the vote, to becoming a lead voting rights advocate in NJ.

The screening, held with our partners at NJPAC on October 26, 2020, was complemented by a discussion including remarks from Governor Murphy, Asw. Shavonda Sumter and other people who have had their votes restored.

Hear from NJ Youth about What They Need to Stay Out of the Criminal Justice System


In the News

Democracy Advocates Urge Senate to Reject Bill Allowing Police at Schools on Election Days

June 23, 2022

NEWARK – In response to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historical Preservation Committee’s vote today to send S2912 – a bill allowing police to be present when voting is occurring at schools and senior centers – to the full Senate for a vote, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a group of democracy advocates (listed below) issued the following statement.  

“Law enforcement and voting do not go together.  

“In election after election, people are intimidated by police at the polls, especially Black and Brown voters. This is the last thing we want to do given current threats to our democracy. 

New data reveals where people in New Jersey prisons come from

June 16, 2022

NEWARK – Today the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the Prison Policy Initiative released a new report, Where people in prison come from: The geography of mass incarceration in New Jersey, that provides an in-depth look at where people incarcerated in New Jersey state prisons come from. The report also provides eight detailed data tables — including neighborhood-specific data for Newark and Jersey City — that serve as a foundation for advocates, organizers, policymakers, data journalists, academics and others to analyze of how incarceration relates to other factors of community well-being. 

The data and report are made possible by the state’s landmark 2020 law that requires that people in prison be counted as residents of their hometown rather than in prison cells when state and local governments redistrict every ten years. 

Institute Releases $600k to Damage Our Kids Forever

June 09, 2022

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today released $600k to Damage Our Kids Forever: A Youth Incarceration Disaster, a report addressing the myriad costs that youth incarceration in New Jersey imposes on individual youth, their families and the state – financial, emotional and beyond. The report draws upon the stories of people impacted by youth incarceration, some who continue to feel the emotional scars decades later. 

In the upcoming fiscal year, New Jersey plans to spend $608,095 to incarcerate each youth in an antiquated, bloated and harmful system that incarcerates Black kids at 18 times the rate of white kids, even though they commit most offenses at similar rates. Over the past decade, New Jersey has invested over half a billion dollars in a broken youth incarceration system designed to lock up Black and Latina/o kids – enough money to provide free in-state tuition at Rutgers University for nearly 40,000 students or to increase New Jersey’s support for violence intervention programs thirty-fold. 

Given the significant challenges we face, we have only two options: to embrace chaos or embrace community. We choose community. Join us as we work to bend our neighborhoods toward the beloved community.


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