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.



“Black people have and will continue to be
the perfecters of this democracy.”

-Nikole Hannah-Jones



The Institute was thrilled to award our largest honor, the Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein Social Justice Award, to Nikole Hannah-Jones at our 15th Annual Gala on Nov. 10, 2020.

Click to watch our 2020 Gala

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and creator of the NYT 1619 Project, Nikole urges us to see America as it really is, and to look with clear vision at the lasting legacy of slavery on every aspect of modern-day life.

At our Gala, Nikole joined Institute President/CEO Ryan Haygood for an in-depth discussion on the role of race in the extraordinary moment we are living through – and the necessary work ahead.

We also honored four other powerful Black women at our event, hosted other special guests including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and enjoyed some powerful musical entertainment.

Please watch




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, is 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


Marking Juneteenth: The Ongoing Quest for Freedom in New Jersey

Watch our Juneteenth panel of Institute experts discussing how to #DoRacialJustice in this critical moment.


In the News

Institute and League of Women Voters Urge New Jersey Apportionment Commission to Begin Redistricting Process Now

August 24, 2021

Institute and League of Women Voters Urge New Jersey Apportionment Commission to Begin Redistricting Process Now

Groups Say Law and Public Policy Dictate that August is the “Trigger Date” for Commission to Begin “Conducting its Business”

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey (the “Groups”) sent a letter  to the New Jersey Apportionment Commission with their analysis that the August release of the Census data was the “trigger date” to begin the process for state legislative redistricting and urging them to begin the process now. 

The Groups argue that despite some uncertainty regarding the trigger date, beginning the process at this time is dictated by the clear language of the recent constitutional amendment and public policy. A copy of the letter can be found here.

“In order for the redrawing of our district maps to be fair and representative of the diverse communities in New Jersey, there must be a robust and deliberate inclusion of public education and input, including public hearings,” said the Groups. “This requires getting started as soon as possible as dictated under current law and with regard to public policy.”

Fair Districts NJ Welcomes Census Data Release & Calls for Public Redistricting Process

August 12, 2021

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Fair Districts New Jersey Welcomes Release of Official Census Data and Calls for a Public Redistricting Process

TRENTON, NJ – The U.S. Census Bureau today has released the official 2020 Census data needed to redraw congressional, legislative, and other election districts. The redistricting process determines whether all New Jersey communities will receive the representation and resources they deserve over the next ten years.

The Fair Districts New Jersey coalition calls on New Jersey’s Apportionment and Redistricting Commissions to each schedule at least 25 public hearings and prioritize public input in the mapmaking process.

“When maps are drawn with public input, the process better reflects the interests of our diverse communities,” said Philip Hensley, Democracy Policy Analyst, League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Now that New Jersey has the necessary data needed to begin mapmaking, Fair Districts is looking forward to working with the Commissions and independent members to both support public engagement and solicit community input.”


Transformative Youth Justice Bill Signed into Law Today

August 11, 2021

Transformative Youth Justice Bill Signed into Law Today 

Legislation Creates Pilot Program for Restorative Justice Programs for Young People 


NEWARK -- Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver today, on behalf of the Murphy administration, signed into law the Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill (A4663/S2924). 

With a two-year pilot program in Newark, Camden, Paterson and Trenton, four cities disproportionately impacted by youth incarceration, this legislation will move over $8 million from our antiquated and ineffective youth incarceration system toward the proven practice of restorative justice – an approach that focuses on building healthy relationships and resolving conflicts in communities to decrease youth involvement in the youth justice system. 

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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