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

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Urges Sen. Booker to Support SAFE Banking Act

December 02, 2022

Black Communities Must Have Access to Cannabis Business, Says Letter

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today sent a letter to Sen. Cory Booker urging him to support the SAFE Banking Act in Congress.

The Institute also urges all of New Jersey's congressional delegation as well as state legislators to put their support behind the SAFE Banking Act.

The Institute’s letter to Sen. Booker included the text below:

“We’re writing today about an urgent matter that will affect not only New Jerseyans, but Americans across the country: the need for Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act.

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Responds to Assembly Vote to Allow Police at Schools and Residential Senior Centers for Elections

October 27, 2022

NEWARK – New Jersey Institute for Social Justice representatives today issued the following statements in response to the New Jersey Assembly’s vote to pass A2131, which allows police at polling locations in schools and senior residential centers during the election.   

This legislation undermines the current law, which keeps police from coming within 100 feet of a polling location while allowing them to respond in cases of emergency. 

“It’s disappointing to see New Jersey’s legislature looking to reactive instead of effective policies – and contracting our democracy at a time when we need to expand it more than ever,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy and Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “It’s unfortunate to see legislators attempting to roll back parts of a good law in favor of one that doesn’t protect our children and can harm our democracy.” 

Over 40 Groups Urge New Jersey to Expand Jury Service to People with Criminal Convictions

October 25, 2022

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and 40 other social justice advocates – the “Jury of Us Coalition” – sent a letter today to Governor Murphy, Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to support passage into law of A977/S3043 to end New Jersey’s misguided practice of prohibiting people with criminal convictions for life from serving on juries. 

The Jury of Us Coalition argued that the lifetime ban undermines both the foundational right to a jury of one’s peers and a fair trial, as well as the goal of reintegrating formerly incarcerated people into our communities. 

New Jersey bans between 438,000 and 533,000 people of the overall population from serving on juries due to criminal convictions, importing the racism of the criminal justice system into its jury selection process. As a result, between 219,000 to 269,000 Black people in New Jersey are banned from jury service because of a conviction—a staggering 23% to 29% of the state’s overall Black population.  

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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