'The Wire' Actor Michael K. Williams Puts Star Power Behind Prisoner Reentry Initiative's Mark J. Bonamo reports

NEWARK, NJ — When Michael K. Williams played the legendary character of Omar Little on the well-known TV show "The Wire," Omar had a famous line: "You come at the king, you best not miss."

When Williams came to Newark earlier this month to talk about the challenges faced by former prisoners seeking to re-enter society, one of the best traits of Omar Little came to life. The real-time Williams came armed with double-barreled words of hope, not with Omar's trusty shotgun. But just like Omar, Williams's weapon of choice did not miss. 

"We're speaking about some people getting a second chance. But there's a lot of people out there, including our youth, that's never gotten a first chance," Williams said as he addressed a mesmerized audience at the Newark office of the non-profit New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC). "What I can do is I can go on them corners, and grab me up somebody, as say 'Brother, what you doing today?' I mentor, and I don't do it by myself. I get my brothers within my circle, and we're putting the wrap around someone. We have to be the wrap around. I'm not waiting for anybody else to be the wrap around my children."

Jesse Owens Rose Triumphant Over Hitler . . . and Roosevelt

The Gazette's David Ramsey reports

We enjoy telling the story of Jesse Owens defeating Adolf Hitler. The tale brightens our American spirit, encourages our sense of greatness.

We ignore the story of Owens and his return to the United States. After winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Owens was snubbed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who declined to send a congratulatory telegram or invite the world’s greatest athlete to the White House.

Ideas for New Jersey to Increase Voter Participation (Opinion)

New Jersey 101.5's Steve Trevelise reports

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice is looking to increase voter participation and in a new report identifies what it calls four barriers to “a robust, inclusive democracy.” They have recommended 11 changes it says can boost voter participation in the state. Included are mandatory civics classes in high schools, paid time for voting, and same day registration.

11 Big Changes NJ Could Make to Boost Voter Participation

New Jersey 101.5's Michael Symons reports

In a new report, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice identifies what it calls four barriers to “a robust, inclusive democracy” and recommends 11 changes it says can boost voter participation in the state.

They include some major changes, such as: mandatory civics classes in high school and college; requiring paid time off from work to vote; same-day registration on Election Day; lowering the voting age; making the Legislature full-time but increasing the pay; and term limits for local offices.

“Voter apathy, low voter turnout, they’re symptoms of a bigger problem. They’re not actually the cause of an issue,” said Henal Patel, director of the group’s Democracy & Justice Program. “And what it comes down to is that people feel that they’re unrepresented, alienated or cut off or uninformed about a system which is often inaccessible to them.”

Social Justice Group Offers Ways to Boost Voter Turnout in NJ

NJTV News' Raven Santana Reports

A voting age as low as 16. Paid time off on Election Day. Mandatory civics classes in high school and college. Terms limits for local officials.

A respected social advocacy group is recommending these and other sweeping changes in a new report addressing low voter turnout for elections in New Jersey.

In “Our Vote, Our Power: Lifting up Democracy’s Voices in the Garden State,” the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice identifies four barriers that keep people from exercising their franchise: lack of knowledge about how government works, registration challenges and the timing of elections, restrictions on who can vote and the perception that the system is not responsive to voters’ desires.

When New Jersey Next Redistricts, it Will Count Incarcerated People Where They Lived

The Appeal's Daniel Nichanian Reports

A new law ends prison gerrymandering in legislative redistricting. New Jersey will continue to disenfranchise incarcerated people.

Most states draw political maps by counting incarcerated people at their prison’s location, rather than at their most recent address. Known as prison gerrymandering, this practice shifts political power from cities and more diverse communities, which suffer the brunt of mass incarceration, to the disproportionately white and rural areas where prisons are often located.

New Jersey is ending prison gerrymandering in legislative redistricting, the seventh state to do so.

Institute's New Report Proposes Bold Reforms to Increase Voter Turnout



Based on Interviews with Newark Residents, Our Vote, Our Power: Lifting Up Democracy's Voices in the Garden State Proposes 11 Policies Including Lowering the Voting Age; Mandatory Civics Classes; Restoring the Vote to Incarcerated People; Same Day Registration; Term Limits; Full-Time Legislature; and Eliminating the “Party Line”   


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today released Our Vote, Our Power: Lifting Up Democracy’s Voices in the Garden State, a report identifying barriers to voter participation in New Jersey and proposing policy recommendations to directly address them. A pdf copy of the report can be found here.

It’s Easy to Cling to Chaos These Days. Remember MLK, and Pick Community Instead.


Institute President and CEO Ryan Haygood writes for

More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his final book before his assassination urging us to make the choice between chaos and community. “We are confronted with the urgency of now," he wrote, "…This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos or community.”

As we honor his 91st birthday and legacy today, we find ourselves again facing the same stark choice.

New Jersey Poised to Lead on Progressive Action with Key Social Justice Legislation



Voting Rights, Prison Gerrymandering, and Apprenticeships Move Forward as Session Ends


NEWARK — The closing of the New Jersey legislative session this week marked the passage of several key pieces of social justice legislation advanced by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice that will help move the state forward to becoming a more racially and socially just state.

“Against a backdrop of national chaos, we have taken substantial strides forward to advance racial and social justice over the 2018-2019 legislative session,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged us to choose community over chaos in difficult national moments like this one. In New Jersey, we are now choosing community—and we are succeeding in building our democracy from the ground up rather than waiting for it to come to us from Washington, D.C. We are building a New Jersey that will serve as a national bright light for progressive action.”

Public Forum On Juvenile Justice Reform Set For South Jersey's Anthony Bellano Reports

A statewide task force charged with helping improve New Jersey's youth justice system is seeking public input, the state attorney general's office announced on Monday. The state is particularly interested in hearing from those who have been directly impacted by the system.

The Task Force for the Continued Transformation of Youth Justice in New Jersey will hold a listening session at KROC Corps Community Center in Camden from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23. The center is located at 1865 Harrison Avenue in Camden.

"We're calling on members of the community to share their ideas, experiences and opinions related to New Jersey's youth justice system and suggest ways to improve it," said Dr. Jennifer LeBaron, Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission and Chairperson of the Task Force. "We welcome comments about any aspect of the system, but we are particularly interested in feedback on several specific topics of interest."