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: