In Vote to Advance the Opportunity to Compete Act, Labor Committee Recognized the Business Case for A3837

Let's take another moment to reflect upon Monday's victories: the Star Ledger's endorsement of the Opportunity to Compete Act (A3837) and the Assembly Labor Committee's vote to advance the bill. In the midst of doubt over whether the bill would move, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), a primary sponsor of the bill, responded within a week by gathering enough support to put the bill on the Labor Committee agenda and rallying proponents to vote the bill out of committee. The vote to advance the bill has roused momentum for this critically important piece of legislation. While we still have much work ahead of us, the arc indeed is bending closer and closer to justice.




Proposed Act Gives Job Seekers With Criminal Records a Fair Chance

New Jersey Law Journal July 19, 2013 What the Opportunity to Compete Act would do is provide people a reasonable chance to get a job and work hard. Nothing more, nothing less. To read full letter to the editor, click below. New Jersey Law Journal letter to the editor regarding New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act By Cornell William Brooks, Esq., and Craig Levine, Esq., of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice  

Groups seek to end solitary confinement of juveniles in N.J.

Seeking to end solitary confinement of children in New Jersey juvenile detention centers, civil rights organizations on Monday filed a petition with the state proposing new limits on what they say is a psychologically damaging - and poorly regulated - form of discipline.

Led by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, nine groups are pushing for changes to the rules governing juvenile detention centers, including eliminating the state's authority to hold children for up to five days in solitary confinement as punishment or pending a disciplinary hearing.

The petition cites an "emerging body of social scientific literature" about the harmful effects of solitary confinement - particularly on young people - and a movement nationwide to eliminate or restrict the practice.In New Jersey, state officials have released no data on the numbers of children being held in isolation in detention centers.

But the groups behind the petition say the practice is common, often administered arbitrarily - and sometimes with devastating consequences.One boy, in trouble for stealing a bicycle, hung himself some years ago after he was placed in an isolation cell, said Bonnie Kerness of the American Friends Service Committee, one of the groups that signed the petition.


Groups Seek Limited Use of Solitary Confinement for Offenders in NJ's Juvenile Justice System

TRENTON, New Jersey — New Jersey's American Civil Liberties Union and other groups met with state officials Monday to push for strict limits on the use of solitary confinement of juveniles held in state custody.

They told representatives from the Attorney General's office and the Juvenile Justice Commission that the young offenders have complained to them about being sent to isolation and left without food or clothes for days.

Currently, juveniles can be isolated for up to five days at a time and a total of 10 days per month as punishment for bad behavior in the detention center. But some claim they were left much longer and for minor infractions.


ACLU, Other Groups Want N.J. to Limit Use of Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of religious, social services and children’s groups today will ask New Jersey to ban using solitary confinement as punishment for juveniles in state and county detention facilities. The state allows for juvenile offenders to be locked away in their rooms for up to five straight days as disciplinary punishment. Corrections officials in the United States have said it’s a needed tool. The ACLU and the groups say the practice goes against the mission of juvenile detention centers: to rehabilitate young people, all of whom will be released. "These are folks who are getting out, and we have an obligation to ensure both that they’re rehabilitated, and also that they’re not horribly damaged," said Alex Shalom, the policy counsel of the ACLU in New Jersey. "I think this is a real opportunity for New Jersey to take a leadership role."