NJ Closer to Letting People on Parole, Probation Vote's Eric Kiefer Reports

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The right to vote is "fundamental and critical" to a healthy democracy. And that also goes for people who are out of prison on parole or probation, a quartet of lawmakers from North Jersey say.

On Monday, A-5823 passed the full state Assembly by a vote of 46-23-1. If it becomes law, the bill would remove the prohibition on voting by persons on parole and/or probation convicted for an indictable federal or state offense.

Read the full bill.

Assembly Passes Bill Returning Voting Rights to Parolees, Probationers — But Not Prisoners

NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea Reports

The Legislature took a major step toward extending the right to vote to people on probation and parole, when the Assembly on Monday passed a bill that does not go quite as far as advocates had hoped but would return about 80,000 New Jerseyans to the voter rolls.

It took 21 months for the effort to end New Jersey’s prohibition on voting for anyone still serving any part of a criminal sentence, which activists characterized as a civil rights issue when announcing it in February 2018. It was a newly introduced bill (A-5823) that passed during this lame duck session. Left out of that bill, and part of the original push, are those who are still incarcerated.

Time’s Up: Let’s Flush an Ancient Law With Racist Origins | Editorial

The Star-Ledger Editorial Board Writes

An archaic state law deprives thousands of New Jerseyans the right to vote, because a few men from the Whig party in 1844 decided that the loss of freedom alone was an inadequate punishment for horse stealing or moral turpitude.

The penalty still applies to people on parole and probation. Repeat: People who have already served their sentences or people who have never even seen the inside of a jail are still disenfranchised in New Jersey.

New Jersey Assembly Passes Bill to Restore Vote to People on Parole and Probation

Insider NJ Reports

NEWARK – Two years after the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its partners launched the 1844 No More campaign to restore voting rights for those with criminal convictions, the New Jersey Assembly today passed legislation (A5823) to restore the vote to people on parole and probation.

This historic legislation, which will restore the vote to 83,000 people in New Jersey whose voices have been silenced due to institutionalized voter suppression, will now move to the Senate.

“We commend the New Jersey Assembly for taking this huge step forward toward restoring voting rights to people with criminal convictions in New Jersey,” said Ryan P.  Haygood, President & CEO of the Institute.

State Assembly Approves Restoration of Voting Rights to Some Convicted Criminals's Michael Aron Reports

At the State House on Monday, the vote was 46 in favor, 23 against, with one abstention, for a bill that would give convicted criminals who are out on parole or probation the right to vote.

Ron Pierce, who spent 30 years in prison for murder, was among those supporting the bill.

“You have 141 collateral consequences in this country for people with felony convictions,” said Pierce, who now works for in Newark at the NJ Institute for Social Justice. “And I think the first process in trying to decimate them is to get the vote back, so you have a voice in the government, so you could speak your voice through your vote.”

The 1619 Project: The Role of Slavery in America – and in New Jersey's Brit Harley Reports

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice recently presented a panel discussion at NJPAC on the role of slavery in America – and in New Jersey.

Investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine.

This year marks the 400th year of Black people being brought to Virginia as slaves. The 1619 Project takes a raw look at America’s relationship with slavery and the impact that remains in present day.

NJ Seeks to Ease Transition for Former Inmates With Prison Reforms's Ashley Balcerzak Reports

There's an effort underway to reduce recidivism in New Jersey.

On one hand, Assembly leaders are advancing a handful of criminal justice bills that among other things, create a road map of what to do after released, restore voting rights to some and provide student aid options in prison. 

"People make mistakes, serve time and then leave incarceration," said Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, a sponsor of many of the companion bills in the Senate. "That’s the time that you should be able to get into a position to change your life. But let's face it, a lot of the time they get out and can't support themselves and their families and will do the same thing and go back to prison. These bills are designed to give those people a foot up."

Nonprofits, City Leaders Take Stock of Newark’s Racial Wealth Gap and How to Improve's M.E. Cagnassola Reports

NEWARK, NJ — Addressing a room full of the city’s business professionals and executives from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka held nothing back as he joined in remarks at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s latest roundtable discussion on Newark’s racial wealth gap, Becoming a Model City. 

“We all know we have a lot of data, and we’ve probably had this data forever. It’s not different, the people who are presenting that data are different,” he said. “It’s been steady for 50 years: We have been poor in this city since we got here. The question becomes, what do we do with this information?”

Apprenticeships can help those who see the American Dream slipping away | Opinion



Senior Counsel Jayne Johnson, Esq. writes for

New Jersey has the shameful distinction of being home to more than a dozen of the wealthiest communities in the country, while ranking 12th highest in the nation for income inequality, according to 2012-2016 U.S. Census data. Indeed, in contrast to the prosperity of many New Jersey communities, about four-in-10 households in the Garden State live month-to-month —unable to afford basic necessities including rent, groceries, health care, transportation and child care.

Black Caucus Introduces Bill Calling for Task Force on Slavery Reparations

NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea Reports

Saying the effects of slavery continue to harm African Americans today, members of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus have announced legislation to create a task force on how the state can make reparations to its black residents.

“For me, this legislation is not about a southern-rooted entity of slavery, but about the harms and the slavery codes that impacted New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic), a caucus co-chair and co-sponsor of the bill introduced Thursday.