By Amy Durr (Photograph: Daniel Hedden)
At the very end of Christie’s second term as governor, prison reform advocates received good news: the State of New Jersey is planning to close two of the three juvenile correctional facilities located in the state. Both the New Jersey Training School for Boys (Jamesburg) and the only prison for girls (Hayes) are slated to be closed.
Perhaps that because the state’s youth prisons are largely empty. The New Jersey Training School for Boys has a maximum capacity of 330 youth and currently houses 140 young people. The Female Secure Care and Intake Facility, the only youth prison for girls, housed only eight young women, approximately 17% of its maximum capacity of forty-eight.
The Murphy Administration now has the opportunity to make major reforms to our juvenile justice system and we can play a role in helping to reimagine the supports we offer to young people as they struggle to deal with what has often been a lifetime of trauma for generations.
One of the leading voices in juvenile prison reform in New Jersey is the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, which launched their 150 Years is Enough campaign on June 28, 2017. The goal of the Campaign was “to transform New Jersey’s youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care by closing two youth prisons—the New Jersey Training School for Boys (Jamesburg) and the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (Hayes)—and investing in community-based programs.”
Now that the first goal is accomplished, the next step is to envision, design, and build a new youth justice system in NJ according to best practices. SJWPC will organize with NJISJ on a county-based strategy, undertaking actions to build awareness on the issue of juvenile prison reform in NJ and support best practices such as: providing culturally sensitive, developmentally-appropriate, and trauma-informed care; ensuring sustained family engagement; and building new youth rehabilitation centers which are small, cottage-like, holistic, child-centered, treatment-focused, and imbued with wrap-around services.
Join the Racial Justice Action Group on February 13th as we learn about the next steps in the #150YearsisEnough campaign and how the Institute would like SJWPC advocates involved.
Event: The Bordentown School: Building the Prison-to-School Pipeline
Sponsor: New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
When: February 13, 2018, 5:30 to 8:00 PM
Where: The Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County (803 Smithville Rd., Mt. Holly)
More information on juvenile prison reform:
By Melissa Tomlinson
Black Lives Matter at school...We know this. We accept this. We want to highlight this.
Educators across the country asked themselves the same question for years. Attempts at reforming a system that has continuously whitewashed history, overlooked disparities in resources, disciplinary procedures, special education classification, identification of gifted students and ignored the push-out of teachers of color have met with minimal success.
Springboarding off of the previous work that the Caucus of Working Educators in Philadelphia and the Seattle Education Association had done around highlighting the fact that Black Lives Matter at School by incorporating thirteen Guiding Principles of the Black Lives Matter belief system, teachers across the country formed a committee to create and implement a campaign to start off this year’s Black History month. This committee chose three demands that they felt to be alignment with the Guiding Principles:
1) End zero tolerance discipline, implement restorative justice
2) Hire more Black teachers
3) Mandate Black history/Ethnic Studies, K-12
Unions and associations across the country have joined this educator-led call to action to endorse the national week of action. Currently endorsements have been issued from:
In New Jersey, the coalition members wanted to make sure that the union was not only willing to endorse the work of these educators, but also to put action into place to make sure that the work would continue. A new business item was brought before the NJEA Delegate Assembly for a vote.
No. 2 Date: January 20, 2018
Topic Black Lives Matter at School
Submitted by Melissa Tomlinson
County (or unit) Atlantic
I move that NJEA join the national call for Black Lives Matter at School Week, to be held Feb. 5-11, 2018, to help mark the celebration of Black History Month.
In support of this motion, NJEA will:
Updates, links to curriculum resources and contact information for those that wish to get involved can be found on the facebook page The National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Our Schools.
There are currently more than 200 children incarcerated in New Jersey's three juvenile prisons, but that will soon change with the closing of Hayes and Jamesburg and the building of two new facilities, one of which will be located in Camden County.
SJWPC's Racial Justice Action Group is working with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice to ensure that the new facilities will use a "restorative justice" model, which provides appropriate treatment rather than a focus on punitive measures that have been shown to be ineffective.
The Action Group supports the NJISJ's 150 Years is Enough Campaign.
Of the more than 200 children who are incarcerated in New Jersey, only 7 are white even though white children have been shown to commit crimes at the same rates as children of color. The Action Group is organizing a steering committee that will organize calls to action in all 8 counties of Southern New Jersey.