In Prison, and Fighting to Vote

The Atlantic's Dana Liebelson reports

A campaign for suffrage is growing inside prisons. Is anyone listening?

When Derrick Washington, a 34-year-old incarcerated in Massachusetts, found a pocket legal dictionary in prison, he decided to memorize every amendment to the United States Constitution. He was particularly struck by the Thirteenth Amendment, which states that slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, shall not exist; to him, it codified his status as a “slave of the state of Massachusetts.” Around that time, he said, his prison was not allowing phone calls, and showers were restricted as part of a lockdown. He said he did not understand how administrators were allowed to “treat us how they were treating us.” He was moved to do something about his situation. In 2012, he founded the Emancipation Initiative, an advocacy group that, as one of its priorities, wants all prisoners in the U.S. to be able to vote.


Criminal Justice Reformers Say Let Inmates Vote

WNYC reports:

In New Jersey, 94,000 people can’t vote — because the state constitution in 1844 outlawed voting for people in prison, on probation or on parole.

America’s Original Sin and its Vestiges Belong to its States - Including N.J.

Institute President and CEO Ryan Haygood writes for

Four hundred years ago this month, Black people arrived in Jamestown, brought to America as captives.

The issue of America’s original sin and its lasting stain have led to a national conversation about reparations this anniversary year, with people asking who is responsible, for how long, and what to do about it.

But the reparations conversation must occur at the state level, too, with each state confronting its historical role in American slavery, as well as the modern day vestiges that continue to harm descendants of enslaved Black people, while simultaneously conferring advantages to the descendants of that system’s beneficiaries.

In doing so, we must acknowledge the direct line from American slavery to today’s system of voter suppression, racial wealth disparities, mass incarceration, and racial segregation.

Report Urges NJ To Spend More On Keeping Kids Out Of Jail

New Jersey 101.5 reports

New Jersey has increased the amount spent on incarcerating youth by 370% in the last two decades. Over the same time period, state funding on efforts meant to keep kids out of prison, or from returning once they're released, has increased by only 50%.

LTE: You Matter. Be Counted. Everyone Counts. New Jersey 2020 Census

Mercer Me reports:

As someone who values the voice our democracy gives us, I appreciate the Hopewell Township Committee’s resolution passed at its June 3 meeting in support of an accurate 2020 Census count. The next decennial census begins on April 1, 2020 (No fooling!).

Institute Releases Bring Our Children Home: Building Up Kids Through New Jersey's Youth Services Commissions



Report Focuses on Role of Youth Services Commissions in Building Up New Jersey’s Kids Instead of Incarcerating Them

Newark – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today released Bring Our Children Home: Building Up Kids Through New Jersey’s Youth Services Commissions. A pdf of the report can be found here.

The report, the third in a series focusing on proposed solutions to New Jersey’s broken and racially discriminatory youth justice system, sheds light on New Jersey’s Youth Services Commissions, the county bodies responsible for planning and funding youth services ranging from prevention to reentry services. The report proposes that by strengthening our state’s Youth Services Commissions (YSC) structure through increased funding, community engagement, transparency, and accountability, we can help create a community-based system of care that will keep our young people in their communities and out of youth prison. To date, the State has failed to adequately prioritize and fund YSCs.

Blueprint for a New Newark

Institute President & CEO Ryan P. Haygood writes for The New York Times

NEWARK — On July 12, 1967, residents of Newark took to the streets to protest the abuse of a black cabdriver, John W. Smith. 

Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate a Tech Startup From Newark

Next City reports: 

When it came to the idea of Newark, New Jersey, being a tech hub, the first people Kayla Jackson and Chisa Egbelu needed to convince was themselves. 

A Commons for All: Vanguard Newark’s Big Idea Challenge

Next City reports: 

The opening of 3-acre Mulberry Commons Park in May 2019, makes a prettier, greener stroll for visitors walking from Newark’s Penn Station to the nearby Prudential Center arena for a concert or game.


New Jersey 101.5 reports: 

New Jersey plans to spend $9 million over the next year to promote participation in the 2020 Census, knowing that seats in Congress and billions in federal spending are on the line if people don’t fill out the form.