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

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

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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

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. 

TOMORROW: Transformative Restorative Justice Bill to be Signed into Law

 

TOMORROW: Transformative Restorative Justice Bill to be Signed into Law

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 10, 2021

CONTACT:

Laurie Beacham, 917.847.6000 or [email protected]

 

NEWARK -- On Wednesday, August 11, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, on behalf of the Murphy administration, will sign 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.

Institute Releases Toolkit to Support Creation of Mental Health Support Systems for Youth in New Jersey

 

Institute Releases Toolkit to Support Creation of Mental Health Support Systems for Youth in New Jersey

Investing in Youth, Not Incarceration is Second Toolkit for Community-Based Care

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today released Investing in Youth, Not Incarceration: A Toolkit for Creating a Community-Led Approach to Youth Mental Health.

The toolkit, released in partnership with Salvation and Social Justice, provides advocates around the state with a blueprint for providing New Jersey’s kids with the mental health support they need in their communities to keep them out of youth prisons and help them thrive.

“New Jersey is failing its vulnerable youth,” said Ashanti Jones, Community Engagement Manager at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “We continue to maintain a broken and inhumane youth justice system that doesn’t rehabilitate our kids but devastates them. This is particularly true for kids with mental health issues, who make up a significant portion of those who are incarcerated.”

New Jersey maintains a broken and inhumane youth justice system that locks up Black kids at almost 18 times the rate as white kids, even though they commit most offenses at similar rates – the highest racial disparity in the nation. Despite the fact that youth prisons are increasingly less populated, the state spends a startling $445,504 per youth each year to prop up an antiquated and harmful system. In May, there were only two girls incarcerated at Hayes youth prison for girls.

Many of the young people caught up in the system suffer from mental health challenges, and incarceration only aggravates these issues. Incarcerated youth with mental health challenges are more likely to attempt suicide, recidivate and develop substance abuse problems than their peers.

On the other hand, mental health care geared toward system-involved youth has resulted in arrest decreases as high as 70%. If such care is provided on the front end, New Jersey can reduce the number of kids who enter the youth justice system.

“Our new Investing in Youth, Not Incarceration toolkit provides advocates with a blueprint for providing our kids with the mental health support they need in their communities to keep them out of the system and help them thrive,” said Yannick Wood, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “As we look to repair the cracks in our foundation exposed over the last year, we must not forget our young people. It’s time to invest in their success, not their failure.”

Based on conversations with over 115 community members about the needs of our youth, Investing in Youth, Not Incarceration provides practical and effective tools for adding mental health care to a community-based system of care, including community cafés, community accountability councils and mental telehealth lines.

The Institute’s previous toolkit provided a roadmap for a community-based system of care based on restorative justice, a process of rehabilitation through reconciliation within the community instead of punishment through the criminal justice system. That toolkit formed the foundation for the Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill currently awaiting Governor Murphy's signature.

 

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Millions of people with felonies can now vote after widespread reform. Most don’t know it.

USA Today's Nicole Lewis and Andrew R. Calderon reports

Only a fraction of the thousands of formerly incarcerated people whose voting rights were restored in time for the 2020 election made it back on to the voter rolls in four key states – Nevada, Kentucky, Iowa and New Jersey, a Marshall Project analysis found.

At least 13 states have expanded voting rights for people with felony convictions between 2016 and 2020. As a result, millions of formerly incarcerated people across the country are now eligible to vote

Yet none of the states analyzed registered more than 1 in 4 eligible voters who were formerly incarcerated. That's significantly lower than the registration rate among the general public, where almost 3 in 4 eligible voters registered in each state.

NJ legislators and activists renew efforts for a reparations task force

PIX11's James Ford reports

NEWARK, N.J. — Because many people aren’t aware of northern states’ history of slavery, and because the descendants of those enslaved people have drastically less wealth now than white Americans, some legislators and activists in New Jersey are redoubling efforts to set up a reparations task force.

Bills have been introduced in both the state senate and the state assembly for the group to be organized.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, a Democrat representing Bergen and Passaic counties, is the sponsor of the lower house bill.

She said that the task force would “put together a document that will define the impact of the inequities of slavery in New Jersey.”

‘Say the word’: Hundreds gather with N.J. social justice leaders to call for reparations bill

NJ.com's Rodrigo Torrejon reports

New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver was a bit ambivalent about Juneteenth.

For as long as she could remember, she and the Black community have celebrated the holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and told the last of the slaves that they were free. It was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.

The holiday is a way to honor Black ancestors, remembering the pain and suffering slavery inflicted. But the work isn’t over, Oliver said.

Social justice leaders say lawmakers should advance NJ Reparations Task Force bill

News 12 Staff reports

What was New Jersey’s role in the enslavement of Black people? And could a task force be the answer to the descendants of slaves getting reparations?

Van Winkle ran the Van Winkle slavering – a ring that captured free and enslaved Blacks and sold them into permanent slavery.

Now there is a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would establish a Reparations Task Force in the state. It is known as Bill S322.

Voting Problems Reported In Newark During 2021 Primary Election

Patch's Eric Kiefer reports

NEWARK, NJ — Ryan Haygood went to his Newark polling place early Tuesday morning, eager to vote in New Jersey's 2021 primary election. There was just one problem – a total absence of voting machines.

Haygood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ), says he was one of many Brick City residents who ran into election day troubles earlier this week.

As reported by the New Jersey Globe, 33 voting machines, mostly for polling locations in Newark's predominately Black Central, South and West Wards, weren't delivered before polls opened. In all, 23 polling places didn't have voting machines by 6 a.m.