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.”

'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.