News

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.”

N.J. Death Toll Tops 100 as Hospitals Stretched Increasingly Thin

WHYY's 

Twenty-seven more New Jerseyans have lost their lives to complications from the coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 108.

“These aren’t abstract numbers,” Murphy said at his daily news briefing. “These are our neighbors, our family, our friends. All of us — we are in this together, and we mourn together.”

New Law Allowing People on Probation and Parole to Vote Takes Effect in NJ

New York Amsterdam News' Cyril Josh Barker reports

Ron Pierce always valued the right to vote and remembers Election Day being meaningful in his house growing up. Thanks to a new law that took effect in New Jersey, the former inmate is casting his first ballot in nearly 35 years.

Pierce is one of 83,000 people on probation and parole in the Garden State who can now register to vote thanks to legislation that went into effect on March 17 allowing them to do so. In January, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill restoring the right to vote for residents on probation or parole.

Stuck In Jail During A Pandemic: Coronavirus Hits NJ Prisons

Patch.com's Eric Kiefer reports

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — When federal ICE detainees go on a hunger strike, they have 72 hours before they're sent to the prison's medical department. There, staff begin working their way through a laundry list of procedures, and may take drastic steps if the situation becomes dire – including holding inmates down and feeding them through tubes.

But according to prisoners and civil rights advocates in New Jersey, the fear of a force-feeding session is small potatoes when compared to the possibility of dying in jail from the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Incarcerated People Must Be Heard

Jacobin's Jonah Walters reports

In recent weeks, as the coronavirus pandemic’s devastation has spread, some attention has turned towards one of the most vulnerable groups in our society: those who are incarcerated, often in conditions that already posed great risks to health and safety before the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers around the country, from San Francisco to New York City to Pittsburgh, have called for a public health response that includes significant protections for incarcerated people, including the release of many prisoners.

At a moment like this, it is important to remember one of the most perverse elements of the American criminal justice system: all across the country, almost everyone incarcerated on a felony conviction loses their right to vote during the entire time they spend in prison, and often for long periods even after their release — a phenomenon advocates refer to as “civic death.”

 

Institute Joins Hundreds of Advocacy Organizations for “Everyone Counts” Campaign on Census Action Day

 

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Institute Joins Hundreds of Advocacy Organizations for “Everyone Counts” Campaign on Census Action Day

Focus is on Hard-to-Survey Communities of Color

 

NEWARK  – Today, marking Census Action Day, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and partner organizations are mobilizing people across New Jersey to get counted in the 2020 Census. The Institute, which is focusing its Census outreach on Hard-to-Survey Black communities, is a Census Counts campaign partner organization.

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s COVID-19 Statement

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic closely, including its impact on the communities we advocate for every day.

Voting Rights Advocates Urge Gov. Murphy and Sec. of State Way to Ensure Robust Elections During Public Health Crisis

 

Voting Rights Advocates Urge Gov. Murphy and Sec. of State Way

to Ensure Robust Elections During Public Health Crisis

 

Groups’ Letter Details Steps to be Taken to Avoid Disenfranchisement

 

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 sent a letter Thursday evening to Gov. Phil Murphy and Sec. of State Tahesha Way laying out steps that must be taken in order to ensure that upcoming elections in New Jersey are successful and robust, even during the current public health crisis.

“As we address our elections, it is paramount to prioritize health and safety, while also ensuring a thriving participatory democracy. Voting must be categorized as an ‘essential service’ and voters must have multiple options for accessing the ballot during this crisis. We are most concerned with communities, such as communities of color and the disability community, that historically face obstacles to the ballot,” said the groups in the letter.