The Equal Justice Initiative works toward reshaping the state’s criminal justice policy to assure equal access to justice and expansion of cost-effective, innovative reform strategies and programs to make the state a safer and better place to live. Our core initiatives include:

    Please click the headlines below to read more about NJISJ’s Equal Justice initiatives.

  • Fair Hiring/The Opportunity to Compete Act

    Creating Open Competition in Employment: NJISJ is committed to improving employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals because secure employment greatly reduces recidivism rates and enhances public safety. Many applications ask job candidates to disclose (by checking a box) if they have ever been convicted of a crime or, in many cases, even arrested. This information is often used to disqualify applicants without any further review of their application. Fair Hiring (“ban the box”) provisions allow rehabilitated individuals to compete for a job by delaying when and determining how employers can use criminal history information—as well as encouraging the use of accurate information.

    Click here to learn more 

  • School Discipline/Zero Tolerance Policies

    On July 12th, NJISJ convened nearly 20 experts in school discipline and education from policy, legal and educational institutions.  This convening provided an outstanding opportunity for a substantive conversation on school discipline issues from the perspective of superintendents, principals, psychologists, social workers, researchers and civil rights and policy advocates.  Lessons learned from this active discussion have informed our planning on next steps.

    read more

  • Integrated Justice Alliance

    The Integrated Justice Alliance (IJA) is a solution-oriented collective of organizations who generate and support effective public policies before, during and after incarceration in New Jersey.  IJA represents a broad coalition of over 80 organizations with expertise in criminal justice, community organizing, reentry, mental health and policy.  IJA is directed by a steering committee consisting of over two dozen volunteers from around the state under the guidance of NJISJ.

    read more

  • Community Court

    “Problem-solving courts” seize low-level criminal offenders’ interactions with the justice system as moments of opportunity to address their underlying problems, thereby serving the interests of justice as well as the needs of the community.

    Partnering with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and the Newark Municipal Court, the Institute helped implement the “community court” model in the Newark Municipal Court system to provide alternative sanctions – such as drug treatment or community service – for non-violent, low-level offenders.

    Click here to learn more 

  • Drug Court

    In September 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court held unanimously, in State v. Meyer, that criminal defendants sentenced to probation may be referred to the state’s drug court program. This program, which employs intensive residential treatment and close supervision, plays an important and cost effective role in reducing the “revolving door” nature of the criminal justice system by addressing the addiction that underlies much criminality. Its two-year recidivism rate of 14% compares to a rate in excess of 50% for those imprisoned. The institute filed a brief as amicus curiae and helped prepare the Supreme Court argument. We were pleased to partner with the Lowenstein Sandler firm on this effort. 

  • Moral Panic

    Moral panic is a 30 minute documentary on gangs in Newark and Essex County in New Jersey. It portrays commentary from policy makers, the community and gang members themselves. It was directed and shot in 2007 by Akintola Hanif and produced by Rick Greenberg, from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

    Click here to watch the trailer