Fill Out Your Census Form!

Jewish Standard's Lois Goldrich Reports

Patricia D. Williamson, the director of New Jersey Counts, a project from the nonprofit, nonpartisan, Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, is coming to Teaneck with an important message on January 20.

When you receive your census form, fill it out.

“A full and accurate census in 2020 is essential to ensuring that New Jersey receives the federal funding to which it is entitled,” Ms. Williamson said. After all, the United States Constitution mandates that the census, conducted every 10 years, must count every single person who lives in this country. The 2020 census form is due to be mailed out on March 12 and 13.

I Was in Juvenile Detention, So I Know That Locking Up Kids Doesn’t Work

The Institute's Youth Councils Leader Krystal Writes

Two years ago this week, former Gov. Chris Christie announced the closure of two of New Jersey’s youth prisons. Two years later, they remain open. Based on my personal experience, this is unacceptable.

I was what they call a dual-system kid. In the world of youth justice, that means I spent time in both a youth detention center and foster care. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy journey from those dark days to my life today as a 26-year-old full-time social worker.

My success wasn’t inevitable. So many kids who get caught up in the criminal justice system never find their way back, so it’s important to me now to use the lessons I’ve learned to fix a broken system that fails so many of our vulnerable youth.

Bill to Stop 'Prison Gerrymandering' Advances in New Jersey

The Fulcrum Staff Reports

A nearly decade-long drive to end what's known as "prison gerrymandering" in New Jersey is accelerating toward success, likely in plenty of time for the redrawing of the state's political maps for the coming decade.

Legislation that would count incarcerated people at their home addresses, rather than where they are in imprisoned, is headed to the full state House after it was endorsed 7-4 in committee Monday. The same bill was passed by the state Senate a year ago.

The measure is being pushed hard by Democrats from urban areas, who say their political power is being shortchanged by the current system — which is now the practice in 44 states. If their bill becomes law, New Jersey would join only California, New York, Washington, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware in counting prisoners where they last lived before their convictions.


Redistricting 2020: Lawmakers Mull Change in How Inmates Are Counted

NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea Reports

Prison inmates would be counted at their former homes, not where they are incarcerated, when New Jersey redraws its legislative boundaries next year under a bill now poised for final passage by state lawmakers.

Advocates for the change say the existing apportionment system inflates the population of places that host correctional facilities and distorts legislative representation both in those places and in the communities where the inmates lived before being incarcerated. State legislative district boundary lines are redrawn every decade to account for shifts in the population so that each contains roughly the same number of people.

N.J. Lawmakers Advance Bills to End ‘Prison Gerrymandering,’ Offer Online Voter Registration

WHYY's Joe Hernandez Reports

New Jersey lawmakers advanced separate election-related bills this week that aim to register more people to vote and change how the state draws legislative district maps.

The proposals were heard just a few weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law that gives New Jersey residents on probation and parole voting rights.

The first bill would end the practice of so-called “prison gerrymandering,” in which states count people where they are incarcerated instead of where they previously lived for the purpose of drawing electoral maps.

To Draw Election Map, NJ May Count Inmates in Prior Hometowns

92.7 WOBM's Michael Symons reports

Among the bills advancing in the waning days of the legislative session are two with significant implications for elections in New Jersey.

One would end what critics call “prison-based gerrymandering” in which inmates are counted as residents of the municipality in which they are jailed, rather than in the town or city where they had been living. The other would let people register online to vote.

Helen Kioukis, a program associate for the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, said six states have passed laws to count prison inmates at their last home address for legislative redistricting purposes “so that when it’s time to redraw our lines through the redistricting process, it’s done so in a fair way with a fairer outcome.”

Where do Inmates Fall in Census Count? NJ Moves to End 'Prison Gerrymandering''s Ashley Balcerzak Reports

Amid this decade's census count — which affects how U.S. congressional districts are drawn — New Jersey lawmakers are grappling with the question: Where do prisoners count?

New Jersey and a majority of states currently count incarcerated people in the districts where the prisons are, boosting population numbers in those districts at the expense of their home areas. Critics call the practice "prison gerrymandering."

The New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee on Monday advanced a bill, 7-4, that would count prisoners in the last known address before they were incarcerated, joining California, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Washington, according to a tally by the Prison Policy Initiative, which tracks the issue. The bill passed the Senate in February, largely on party lines.

Murphy Signs Legislation Reforming Criminal Justice

TapInto Newark Staff Reports

NEWARK, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy signed two pieces legislation making major changes in criminal justice.

One bill will allow former convicts to vote in New Jersey while the second will change the expungement process in the state.

“Our Administration is deeply committed to transforming our criminal justice system, and today we are taking a historic step to give residents impacted by that system a second chance,” Murphy said.

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“I am proud to sign one of the most progressive expungement laws in the nation, which will allow more New Jerseyans the opportunity to fully engage in our society," Murphy said. "I am also proud to enact legislation that will restore voting rights to over 80,000 residents on probation or parole, allowing them to fully participate in our democracy.”

N.J. Restores Voting Rights to People on Probation and Parole

New Jersey will extend voting rights to residents who are on parole or probation, allowing nearly 73,000 people across the state to cast ballots for the first time next year.

At a bill signing Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said the sea change in criminal justice policy was part of his “second chance agenda” that prioritizes social justice and correcting historical racial discrimination.

“This is not and should not be one [political] party or the other,” Murphy said. “This is the right thing to do.”

New Jersey Restores Voting Rights of People on Parole and Probation

Common Dreams' Jessica Corbett Reports

Pro-democracy and criminal justice reform advocates celebrated Wednesday as Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill restoring the voting rights of tens of thousands of state residents on parole and probation, following the lead of over a dozen other states that allow those individuals to participate in political elections.

"On this historic day, New Jersey has lifted my colleague Ron Pierce—a veteran, husband, and college graduate—and 83,000 ghosts of democracy out of the shadows so that they can finally be seen, heard, and represented," Ryan P. Haygood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ), said in a statement.