Voting Rights Advocates Applaud Hybrid Primary Election Decision

Voting Rights Advocates Applaud Hybrid Primary Election Decision

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey applaud Governor Murphy’s decision to significantly expand vote-by-mail in our state while maintaining in-person voting options. The groups praised the Executive Order signed Friday as a smart approach to elections that recognizes that people should not have to choose between their health and their ability to participate in a democracy.

In March, the groups joined with over 30 other national, state, and community organizations to send recommendations ahead of the decision to the Governor, Secretary of State, and legislative leadership meant to ensure a safe and robust election during the public health crisis. Several of those recommendations, including automatically sending postage paid vote-by-mail ballots to voters, maintaining in-person voting opportunities, providing secure ballot drop boxes, and relaxing the deadline for vote-by-mail ballots to be received, were adopted.

Voting Rights Groups Challenge New Jersey Signature Match Ballot Requirement

Voting Rights Groups Challenge New Jersey Signature Match Ballot Requirement 

New Jersey Must Provide Notice and Opportunity to Cure Rejected Mail-in Ballots in Time for July 7 Election 

NEWARK—Today, Campaign Legal Center, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and an individual New Jersey voter, asking for relief for voters from the state’s flawed ballot signature match requirements which, each election, often impacts at least one percent of all mail-in voters.

As New Jersey continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy announced Friday that mail ballots will automatically be sent to the state’s active Republican and Democratic voters, with applications sent to unaffiliated and inactive registered voters. The resultant surge in mail ballots underscores the urgent need for procedural safeguards to assure voters that they can cast their mail ballots with confidence.

Facebook Live Conversation with Senator Cory Booker

Institute President & CEO Ryan Haygood joined U. S. Senator Cory Booker and Amol Sinha of the ACLU-NJ for a critical and compelling conversation about the cracks of structural racism being exposed in the pandemic, and the need to repair them now.

N.J. to be First State to Test Every Juvenile Offender as Coronavirus Cases Rise's Blake Nelson reports

All offenders and staff within New Jersey’s juvenile system will be tested for the coronavirus, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Friday.

“We have to do everything possible here because this is such a special responsibility for us,” Grewal told NJ Advance Media. “They’re young people, and they’re in our care.”

The move makes New Jersey the first state to test every juvenile offender, according to Grewal, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a spokesman for the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that’s tracking cases nationwide.

Inmates Beg for Testing After Gov. Phil Murphy's Order Excludes 90 Percent of NJSP Population for Release

The Trentonian's Isaac Avilucea reports

TRENTON — For days, convicted murderer Peter Shanley was shuttled a half-dozen times between his cell in the west compound of New Jersey State Prison and the infirmary.

Inmates housed with Shanley in the same wing of the state’s maximum security facility told The Trentonian in recent interviews that he exhibited clear symptoms of the novel coronavirus for weeks.

They suspected he was also undergoing cancer treatment because of the medical ward they’d see him visit before the outbreak, something The Trentonian couldn’t independently confirm.


After Slow Start, NJ Begins Furloughing Prisoners to Stem Spread of COVID-19

NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea reports

It took more than two weeks, but the New Jersey Department of Corrections over the weekend began furloughing a small number of inmates to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, but some advocates say this is too little, too late.
As of 8 p.m. Monday, the DOC had released 54 individuals and put them on emergency medical-home confinement (EMHC), according to department spokeswoman Liz Velez. That represents fewer than 3% of those thus far eligible under the executive order Gov. Phil Murphy signed April 10 that allows the furloughs.

COVID-19 Isolation for Youths Raises Concerns in New Jersey

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange's Marco Poggio reports

On July 11, 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy used the power of his pen to seize a unique political opportunity: putting his signature on one of the most ground-breaking laws in the country limiting the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.

It was a triumph for the juvenile justice advocates and formerly incarcerated people, many of whom had counted their days in isolated cells. They had showed up at the state’s legislative sessions wearing T-shirts saying things like “Solitary Confinement = Torture” to pave the way for the bill to pass. 

“I am proud to stand together with New Jersey’s criminal justice reform advocates and legislators to advance a humane correctional system,” Murphy said in a statement on the day he signed the bill.

Coronavirus Hitting NJ Minority, Immigrant Communities Hard's Eric Kiefer reports

MONTCLAIR, NJ — The new coronavirus can infect people of all races and ethnicities. It doesn't care about your immigration status. But that doesn't mean the virus is taking an equal toll on New Jersey's communities, some say.

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the nation, a rising tide of residents and community leaders are demanding that New Jersey officials take a hard look at how the disease is affecting minorities and immigrants.

"Our country has an incredibly poor history of health care when it comes to the treatment of minorities, especially in the black community," said Sen. Ronald Rice of the 28th District (Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Newark, Nutley).

Virginia Ends Prison Gerrymandering, the Latest Chapter in a Recent Tidal Wave

The Appeal's Daniel Nichanian reports

Virginia is the latest state to end prison gerrymandering, which is the practice of counting incarcerated people where they are detained rather than at their last known residence for purposes of redistricting. 

The adoption of Senate Bill 717 and House Bill 1255 this week paves the way for Virginia to draw fairer maps. The identical bills, which also make other changes to redistricting criteria, were passed by the Democratic legislature in February. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam approved them last week under the condition that lawmakers adopt a technical change, which they did on Wednesday. 

Virginia adds to a tidal wave of state action against prison gerrymandering that seemed unthinkable just a year ago.

New Institute Report, Erasing NJ’s Red Lines, Ties Generations of Housing Discrimination to Gaping Racial Wealth Gap in the Garden State and Offers Policy Recommendations



New Institute Report, Erasing NJ’s Red Lines, Ties Generations of Housing Discrimination to Gaping Racial Wealth Gap in the Garden State and Offers Policy Recommendations

Released in Midst of Pandemic, Report Highlights Structural Racism That’s Also Causing Communities of Color to be Disproportionately Impacted by Health Crisis

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today released Erasing New Jersey’s Red Lines: Reducing the Racial Wealth Gap Through Homeownership and Investment in Communities of Color. The new report shines a light on how generations of structural racism in housing have led to the gaping racial wealth gap in the Garden State, and offers bold proposals to address the problem.

“As this report is being released, New Jersey – along with the rest of the country and the world – is fighting a devastating public health crisis,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the Institute. “As we are experiencing in this pandemic, the cracks of racial injustice in society’s foundation are causing earthquakes in Black and other communities of color. One of those cracks is the staggering racial wealth gap that is largely driven by the generations of housing discrimination laid out in our report, and which can be addressed by our proposed solutions.”