Following Advocacy from Civil Rights and Youth Justice Advocates, Attorney General Grewal Announces All NJ Kids in JJC Facilities Will be Tested for COVID-19

Following Advocacy from Civil Rights and Youth Justice Advocates, Attorney General Grewal Announces All NJ Kids in JJC Facilities Will be Tested for COVID-19


NEWARK – After ongoing advocacy from civil rights groups including the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Salvation & Social Justice, and the 150 Years is Enough campaign, NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced today that every youth in the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission facilities will be tested for COVID-19.

Recent weeks have shown a steady uptick of both youth and staff testing positive in JJC facilities, where youth are living in close quarters, away from their families who are unable to visit them, and up until today, were only tested if they presented symptoms. As of today, 20 youth and 32 staff are reported to have tested positive.

Voting Rights Advocates Provide Plan for New Jersey Elections

Voting Rights Advocates Provide Plan for New Jersey Elections

Groups’ Recommendations Detail Steps to be Taken to Avoid Disenfranchisement


TRENTON – A diverse coalition of 35 statewide, local, and national organizations sent recommendations to Governor Murphy, Secretary of State Way, and legislative leadership laying out steps that must be taken to ensure that New Jersey’s upcoming elections are successful and robust. The groups stressed the need to protect health and voting rights by expanding, not restricting, access to the ballot.

Governor Murphy issued an Executive Order earlier this month postponing the primary election until July 7, 2020 but has yet to announce any logistical decisions regarding the election.

In This Time of Crisis, Workers Must Get Paychecks, Voters Must Get Ballots | Opinion

State Director for New Jersey Working Families Sue Altman writes

Our state is in the midst of a crisis, and New Jersey Working Families is proud that Trenton is stepping up to meet this unprecedented challenge.

Our elected officials are setting aside longstanding political and policy disputes to work together to protect residents from this ongoing health emergency.

Thanks to decisive action taken by Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature, New Jersey is leading the nation in an aggressive response.

Trenton is also working on ways to keep essential government functions going for the duration of this crisis — and to continue providing services to those who are most vulnerable in our society.

‘Be Still Mondays’ Begin in Newark to Combat COVID-19

New York Amsterdam News' Cyril Josh Barker reports

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka recently announced the installation of “Be Still Mondays” asking for a complete shutdown of the city once a week.

Beginning this Monday, “Be Still Mondays” will happen each week through May 11. While not an executive order, the weekly shutdown is a request that discourages all businesses except for health, safety, and welfare emergency services to close.

“We want to shut down the whole City,” Baraka said during his Thursday night Facebook Live briefing. “We’re sending out letters to all businesses asking them to close. Businesses that provide food and shelter for the homeless population may operate but the City is asking soup kitchens to limit their operations from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A Message The Black Community Needs to Hear: Rona is Not Playing, Y’all

NJ Advance Media's Barry Carter reports

We have a problem right now with some folks in the black community.

Most are acting responsibly -- but some, and that sum, whatever the numbers maybe, makes me shake my head and tug at the brim of my fedora. They believe they’re invincible, that the coronavirus will never catch them, and they are taking a huge gamble with their lives and the lives of others as this highly contagious disease rips through the nation.

Here’s my message to New Jersey’s black community, which I have covered for many years:

Rona is not playing, y’all.

Hundreds Have Ignored Stay-at-Home Orders in Newark. Here’s Why The Stakes Are so High There.

NJ Advance Media's Payton Guion reports

Outside his home in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, Ryan Haygood watched for two weeks as his city struggled to come to terms with the significance of the coronavirus outbreak.

Even though Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was ahead of most other cities in New Jersey in his response — he first began holding daily briefings on March 16 — city officials were still having difficulties keeping people at home and non-essential businesses closed.

“A couple of weeks ago it was clear there were people in the city who were taking it very seriously and others who were not," said Haygood, president and CEO on the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. "You could drive down the street and see” a lot of people out.

Coronavirus Is Exposing Racial Gaps In NJ, Newark Advocates Say's Eric Kiefer reports

NEWARK, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy needs to take a deeper look at racial data as the new coronavirus spreads throughout New Jersey. The results might reveal some serious gaps in the Garden State's social safety net, according to a Newark-based social justice group.

Earlier this week, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) and its partners with the United Black Agenda sent a letter to Murphy, claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing earthquakes in communities of color across the state.

According to the coalition, "structural racism" that existed long before the viral outbreak is likely to cause a disproportionate amount of sickness and death in black and Latina/Latino communities.

The NJISJ offered some examples to back up the coalition's claim in their letter.

COVID-19 Behind Bars: Will Releasing At-Risk Inmates, Select Others Keep Lid on Potential Crisis?

NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea reports

Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he is “looking at” the possibility of releasing some state prison inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the system that houses some 19,000 individuals, eight of whom — including three in halfway houses — have now tested positive for the virus.

New Jersey was among the early states and localities to release incarcerated individuals — letting close to 700 people temporarily leave county jails as guards and inmates began testing positive for the virus. But there has been no movement to release any of the 16,000 individuals in state prisons and youth facilities where they would be captive to a COVID-19 outbreak, nor the roughly 2,600 in halfway houses.

Op-Ed: Keeping Democracy Alive During the Pandemic

League of Women Voters of New Jersey's Jesse Burns and The Institute's Henal Patel write

New Jersey, like the rest of the nation, is faced with an immense challenge: safeguarding our democracy while protecting public health. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for voters, and we must execute a multipronged approach to ensure access to the ballot. Fortunately, we have the necessary tools to accomplish this. Last week, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and the ACLU of New Jersey sent a letter of recommendations to the governor and secretary of state laying out steps that must be taken in order to ensure that our upcoming elections are successful and robust, even during the current crisis. Every vote counts and must be protected. Our recommendations focus on protecting those who are historically marginalized at the polls, such as communities of color and the disability community, to ensure they have multiple options to cast a ballot.  

Institute and Partners Request Racial Data on COVID-19 Impact



Institute and Partners Request Racial Data on COVID-19 Impact

Information Essential for Providing Support to Hardest Hit Communities of Color in NJ

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its United Black Agenda partners wrote Governor Murphy Tuesday requesting that the State publicly release the following demographic information regarding the current public health crisis:

  • Who has been tested, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender;
  • Who has tested positive, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender; · The fatality rate, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender;
  • Who is or has been hospitalized, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, municipality, and gender; and
  • The incidence of testing, infection, hospitalization, and fatalities among the youth and adult incarcerated populations, broken down by age, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Citing statistics demonstrating the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color across the country, the letter said, “Public health crises always reveal the cracks in our safety net foundation. And as we are experiencing through this pandemic, these cracks cause earthquakes in our Black and Latina/Latino communities, as well as in other communities of color.”