Location: Newark, NJ
Address of Internship: 60 Park Place, Suite 511 Newark, NJ 07102
Number of Positions: 1
The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (“NJISJ” or “the Institute”) is a Newark-based research and advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of New Jersey's urban areas and residents. Established in 1999 by the Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein Foundation, the Institute aims to create just, vibrant, and healthy urban communities through the programmatic lens of its three pillars: economic justice, civic engagement, and criminal justice reform. These three platform areas provide a comprehensive basis for approaching the inequities and disparities that ail urban communities in New Jersey and around the country.
The interns will be a force multiplier. The Institute always has its hands in quite a number of projects; thus, the interns will take on substantial components of multiple initiatives, performing critical research and analysis and producing a variety of written products across our three pillars.
It is the Institute’s strong belief that New Jersey’s urban areas hold remarkable potential to act as regionally competitive economic engines while providing resilient, vital, and attractive communities to their residents. It is the Institute’s work to identify, analyze, and address the underlying causes of social and economic disparities, and to challenge the barriers that constrain cities and their residents from achieving their full potential. The Institute’s work is grounded by our desire to create change that is at once transformative, achievable here in New Jersey, and also replicable across the nation.
New Jersey has the worst racial disparities among its incarcerated Black and white youth in the country. In New Jersey, a Black youth is thirty times more likely to be detained or committed to a youth facility than a white child. To advance a transformative vision for New Jersey’s youth, the Institute launched its 150 Years Is Enough campaign in June 2017—the 150th anniversary of the opening of the state’s largest youth prison for boys. The campaign seeks to transform New Jersey’s youth incarceration system into a community-based continuum of care, principally by aiming to close the New Jersey Training School for Boys (“Jamesburg”) and the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (“Hayes”), and reinvesting funds into community-based alternatives to incarceration.
The Institute also serves on the Monitoring Team overseeing the consent decree between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Newark in regards to unconstitutional practices undertaken by the Newark Police Division (NPD). A consent decree, in the context of policing, is an agreement that a police department voluntarily enters into to revise policies, realign goals, and renew its commitment to the community. In 2014, DOJ released a report stating that it had concluded an investigation into NPD and found that the NPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional and/or dehumanizing tactics. Thereafter, the DOJ entered into this court-backed consent decree with the NPD. The court appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey to be the Independent Monitor of the process; he then assembled a Monitoring Team to assist him in this work. The Monitoring Team oversees the transformation of the NPD and makes sure the NPD is sticking to the schedules and substantive mandates of the consent decree. The Institute’s position on the Monitoring Team has a specific emphasis on facilitating and promoting community engagement.
Beyond the bounds of the consent decree, the Institute is establishing its own initiatives for police reform in this state and country. This work, under the working title of Policing Reimagined, centers upon assessing best practices, envisioning less punitive and carceral responses to social issues, and campaigning for large-scale shifts in the way policing is done around New Jersey and in onlooking states that will replicate the models produce by the Institute
Previous Guggenheim Fellows had the following police reform work opportunities and responsibilities:
• Drafted white papers on NPD’s draft policies and created facilitator questions for community forums to discuss said policies;
• Researched LGBT policies of the nation’s largest police departments to inform NPD’s draft LGBT policy; and
• Researched best practices in policing to prepare draft 10 Things You Can do to Reform Law Enforcement in New Jersey booklet.
The intern will be deeply immersed in the Institute’s criminal justice work. As a result, they will need strong critical thinking and writing skills, a high level of professionalism, and attention to detail. Given the nature of the intern assignments (including but not limited to research and attending public meetings/hearings), the Institute encourages students to be inquisitive, adaptable, and receptive to feedback. To thrive in this environment the intern will need good communications skills and technical proficiency in Microsoft Office suite.