Thousands Of Former NJ Prison Inmates Can Now Register To Vote's Eric Kiefer reports

NEWARK, NJ — A wave of formerly incarcerated people in New Jersey have taken their first steps towards voting in the 2020 election.

On Tuesday, former prisoners and civil rights advocates gathered at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark to mark the rollout of a new law restoring the voting rights of New Jersey residents on probation or parole.

The law, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed in December 2019, took effect today.

During the event, people such as Ron Pierce – who hasn't been able to legally enter a voting booth in more than 30 years – filled out voter registration forms, sharing an emotional moment of having their voice returned after years of being "disenfranchised," the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) stated.

Women’s History Month Kickoff Celebrates Women’s Right to Vote

Rutgers Claretta Bellamy reports

The Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) community kicked off the beginning of Women’s History Month 2020 with this year’s theme of “The Right to Vote, The Right to Run.” The third annual campus-wide celebration titled “No More Hidden Figures - Continuing to Honor and Recognize the Sheroes Among Us” took place in the Essex Room of the Paul Robeson Campus Center on Wed., March 4. In addition to honoring women leaders of the Newark community, this event celebrated the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States.

The event began with a welcome from Lori Scott Pickens and Shanida Carter, co-chairs of the 2020 Women’s History Month Committee. The program was led by Sharon Stroye, director of public engagement in the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Coronavirus Forces Online Learning in NJ, But What if You Can't Afford The Internet?'s Hannan Adely and Ashley Balcerzak report

As New Jersey rushes into a mass experiment with online instruction thanks to the coronavirus, Michelle Polo-Thorpe worries that her students will be left behind.

“I have 30 students in my homeroom class and only 11 have a cellphone,” said Polo-Thorpe, a seventh-grade English teacher in Paterson. “We have many students who are new to the country. They don’t have access to a computer outside of school or the public library.”

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all public schools in the state to close by Wednesday, shifting 1.4 million pupils to remote learning as New Jersey races to contain the virus. But the vast majority of schools had already shut their doors by the start of the week, with a mix of online learning and self-study taking hold in homes across the state.

Coronavirus in Prisons? Not Yet, But Officials Halt Visits to State Inmates's Ashley Balcerzak reports

While New Jersey jails and prisons have not seen any positive cases of coronavirus as of Saturday, state prisons will now suspend all visitors to the facilities except attorneys, Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks said Saturday. 

The measure was set to take effect 5 p.m. Saturday and will last 30 days. The announcement does not apply to county jails, many of which already put in stricter new policies, but Gov. Phil Murphy said that "when the state moves, it's only a matter of time before counties line up."

“We know that families are a critical support to the population and our care but we also realize that ensuring the health and safety of our inmate population, our residents, our staff and the public are paramount importance during this public health crisis," Hicks said.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs Top 1,000 As NJ Awards $3M in New Grants staff reports

Newark, NJ – New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo announced the state had achieved a record number of Registered Apprenticeship programs and recognized the recipients of $3 million in new grants to expand earn-while-you-learn opportunities beyond the traditional occupations.

Asaro-Angelo announced New Jersey reached its 1000th Registered Apprenticeship program (there are now 1,002) – a 64 percent increase since Gov. Murphy took office in January 2018. Additionally, New Jersey is seeing unprecedented growth in the diversity of the apprentices funded through its GAINS (Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors) grantees, with 63 percent identifying as Hispanic, African American or female.

Key Groups Urge Governor To Expand Automatic Voter Registration To Medicaid staff reports

Trenton, NJ – A diverse coalition of organizations sent a letter to Governor Murphy urging his administration to expand automatic voter registration (AVR) to Medicaid. Signed into law in 2018, AVR currently allows eligible voters to be automatically registered to vote or have their voting information updated when interacting with the Motor Vehicle Commission, unless they decline registration.

The legislation authorizes the Secretary of State to designate additional government agencies to implement AVR. New Jersey’s Medicaid program touches nearly 1.7 million individuals, many of whom do not have the same opportunities to register to vote through traditional channels.

NJISJ Commends Gov. Murphy for Executive Order Expanding Vote-by-Mail Access



NJISJ Commends Gov. Murphy for Executive Order Expanding Vote-by-Mail Access

Democracy Must Remain Open for Business During Public Health Crisis, Said Group


NEWARK -- The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today commended Gov. Murphy for issuing an Executive Order to expand the accessibility of vote-by-mail to registered voters in New Jersey for upcoming local elections.

In addition to postponing local elections scheduled for April until May 12, the Executive Order provides that every registered voter in New Jersey receive a vote-by-mail ballot which, importantly, will include prepaid postage so that economically insecure people will not be prevented from mailing in their ballots due to the cost of postage.

On Wednesday, the Institute and eleven other groups wrote to the Governor urging him to make vote-by-mail more accessible. 

In Light of Public Health Crisis, Institute and Other Groups Call on New Jersey to Make Vote-By-Mail More Accessible to All Residents




In Light of Public Health Crisis, Institute and Other Groups Call on New Jersey to Make Vote-By-Mail More Accessible to All Residents

Letter to Governor and Legislators Says All Voters Should Receive VBM Applications, and Postage Should be Prepaid for VBM Applications and Ballots


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and eleven other New Jersey organizations today wrote to Gov. Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to pass and sign legislation to provide that all registered voters in New Jersey be sent a Vote-by-Mail (VBM) application, and that postage is prepaid for those applications as well as for VBM ballots.

Noting several upcoming elections, the letter pointed out that “While other states are grappling with adopting vote-by-mail during the ongoing public health crisis, we are fortunate that New Jersey has been ahead of the curve. Under your collective leadership, vote-by-mail became law and was expanded. It is now time to go further.”

Youth Justice Advocates in 22 States Demand Governors and System Leaders Release Incarcerated Youth Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Advocates urge governors and system administrators to stop new admissions, remove youth from facilities to reduce youth risk of infection

Washington, D.C. — Today, youth justice advocates in twenty-two states (listed below) demanded in letters sent to governors, juvenile justice system administrators, and other state and local officials the release of detained and incarcerated youth and the halting of new admissions to protect youth from the spread of COVID-19.

State advocates outlined several measures, including examining all pre- and post-adjudication release processes and mechanisms and to begin employing these as quickly as possible; removing youth who have COVID-19 symptoms or chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes or other serious illnesses; and eliminating any form of detention or incarceration for youth unless a determination is made that a youth is a substantial safety risk to others.

Institute and Other Groups Ask Gov. Murphy to Protect Incarcerated Youth During COVID-19 Pandemic



Institute and Other Groups Ask Gov. Murphy to Protect Incarcerated Youth During COVID-19 Pandemic

New Juvenile Detention Admissions Should be Halted and Incarcerated Youth Should be Removed from Facilities


NEWARK – In light of the public health threat to incarcerated youth during the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its partners in the 150 Years is Enough campaign today asked Gov. Murphy to halt new admissions to juvenile detention in New Jersey, and to remove currently incarcerated youth from detention facilities.

The Institute, Salvation & Social Justice, and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference told the Governor that, “Research by health care experts shows that incarcerated populations are most at risk during a public health crisis. COVID-19 spread quickly in enclosed spaces such as cruise ships and nursing homes and it will spread just as quickly in detention centers, prisons, and jails.”