New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Apply HERE (Applications due February 15, 2019)


Location: Newark, NJ

Address of Internship: 60 Park Place, Suite 511 Newark, NJ 07102

Number of Positions: 2

Organization Description

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 mobility, 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. 

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.

Primary programs: 
The Institute focuses on expanding access to economic opportunity for low-income residents and residents of color in Newark and other urban areas in the state; promoting local, regional, and state government that is effective, equitable, and accountable to the concerns of urban residents and their communities; and ensuring the protection of civil rights of people of color and low-income individuals in the state. The Institute advances this non-partisan agenda through policy-related research and analysis, development and implementation of model programs, advocacy, and sustained public education. 

Position Description

The interns’ work will be housed in our criminal justice pillar, with its focus on juvenile justice and policing reform.

1) Juvenile Justice 

New Jersey is number one among states in two alarming and disappointing ways: it leads the nation in both the Black-white disparity between incarcerated adults in state prisons and also that between confined youths. Realizing how these hard truths feed into one another, 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. 

During the internship period, interns will primarily support the work of the 150 Years is Enough campaign in a number of ways, including identifying national best practices in youth justice reform; researching alternatives to incarceration and community-based programming, and laying the groundwork for legislative reform. The project will be multivariate because the problem is complex. Above all, we need interns who deeply feel that there is no such thing as a throwaway kid. 

Juvenile Justice Reform opportunities and responsibilities: 

  • Research national best practices in youth justice reform 
  • Work closely with the Institute’s juvenile justice field organizer and decarceration campaign manager to advocate for transformative programs across the state
  • Attend coalition meetings to engage community members and advocates in the goals of the campaign 
  • Lay the groundwork for legislative reform, including bill-drafting and designing model programs

In addition to the monumental work outlined above, the Institute is immersed in groundbreaking work to strategize and envision the phenomenon of policing. This area of our focus revolves around the Institute’s involvement in the federal consent decree in Newark and around reimagining policing more broadly.

2) Policing 

The Institute 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 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 Division had engaged in a pattern/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 Division 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 to the way policing is done around New Jersey and to onlooking states who will replicate the models we produce. An example of the work the Institute has done in this space is our 10 Things You Can Do To Reform Law Enforcement In New Jersey booklet, a practical guide for residents on how they can effect police reform. 

Policing Reform opportunities and responsibilities: 

  • Provide research support on phenomena relevant to policing, such as use of force, bias-free policing, body-worn cameras, and stop-search-and-arrest data 
  • Draft white papers to explain NPD policy revisions and drafts 
  • Coordinate community events and, more broadly, brainstorm ways of effective, inclusive community engagement 
  • Pen memos on issue areas, current events, and analytics that drive the direction of this work so that it is responsive and topical 
  • Undertake research on best practices related to reducing punitive measures, criminalization, and police misconduct 


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.

The Interns should have the following: 

  • A passion for justice and the development of fairer criminal and juvenile justice systems. 
  • A creative, entrepreneurial approach to work. 
  • The ability to work in a dynamic environment that entails improvisational responses to emergent opportunities. 
  • Strong writing, and research skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with a wide range of people. 
  • The desire to work with diverse people and communities.