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ACNJ Press Release

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CONTACT:  Mary Coogan, ACNJ Vice President, (732) 580-9200 or mcoogan@acnj.org

Press Advisory: Youth Justice New Jersey coalition Campaign Launch tomorrow (June 28) to Close Youth Prisons and Reinvest in a Community-Based System of Care.

On June 28, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the Youth Justice New Jersey coalition will launch a campaign outside of the New Jersey Training School for Boys (“Jamesburg”)—New Jersey's largest youth prison—to demand that it and the girls' prison, the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (“Hayes”), be closed.

Speakers at the rally will include Erich Kussman, a Jamesburg Survivor and Princeton Seminary student, faith leaders Rev. Charles Boyer, Pastor Timothy Jones, and Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, as well as a performance from the Newark Boys Chorus. (A full list of speakers is below.)

“On June 28, 1867, Jamesburg opened its doors,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO. “And on June 28, 2017, we will launch a campaign outside of Jamesburg’s prison doors to declare that 150 years of youth incarceration is enough. We are lifting our collective voices to transform New Jersey's youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care."

More than forty organizations, including Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), the NAACP State Conference, the ACLU of New Jersey, the New Jersey Black Issues Convention, the Drug Policy Alliance, Faith in New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and My Brother's Keeper-Newark have signed onto a letter supporting this campaign.

"Although youth should be held accountable for their actions, the goal of the juvenile justice system is to ensure that system-involved youth are equipped with the skills they need to stay out of trouble and mature into productive adults. Large youth prisons will not accomplish this goal,” said Mary Coogan, vice president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey  (ACNJ), which is a member Youth Justice New Jersey coalition.

"All of our children deserve a second chance," said Retha Onitiri, the Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager. "There are no throwaway children."  

Community-based programs with wrap-around services have proven to be more effective in reducing recidivism than incarceration. For those youth who are in need of secure placement, the Institute advocates for small, developmentally-appropriate, treatment-focused, therapeutic environments.

The rally will occur outside of Jamesburg, located at Grace Hill Road in Monroe Township, on June 28 from noon to 1:30 pm. Attendees can park on Grace Hill Road or at the Daniel P. Ryan Memorial Field (around the corner from the Jamesburg facility), located at 34 North State Home Road in Monroe Township, NJ 08831.

Reporters who wish to travel with supporters or conduct interviews with supporters and/or NJISJ staff, should contact Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, the Institute’s Communications Director, at 917-273-7088 or ewgreenberg@njisj.org.

Those interested in more information on New Jersey’s juvenile justice system, please read the Institute’s report, Bring Our Children Home: Ain’t I A Child and ACNJ’s special juvenile justice kids count report.

Caravans of supporters will be coming from across the state, sponsored by the following organizations or houses of worship:
Essex County:
•    Bethany Baptist Church, My Brother’s Keeper-Newark, Youth Build
•    My Brother’s Keeper-East Orange
•    Youth Advocate Programs (youth who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system)

Middlesex County:
•    Mount Zion AME Church, New Brunswick
•    Reformed Church of Highland Park
•    Youth Advocate Programs (youth who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system)

Burlington County:
•    NAACP

Camden County:
•    Evangelism Today Christian Church
•    Youth Advocate Programs (youth who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system)

Gloucester County:
•    Bethel AME Church, Woodbury

Speakers and performers at the rally include:
•    Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO
•    Liz Ryan, Youth First President and CEO
•    Andrea McChristian, Institute Counsel and author of Bring Our Children Home: Ain’t I A Child
•    Newark Boy’s Chorus School
•    Retha Onitiri, Institute Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager
•    Rev. Charles Boyer, founder of Salvation and Social Justice; Bethel AME Church, Woodbury
•    Amos Caley, Organizer, New Jersey Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, Associate Pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park
•    Krystal Seruya, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
•    Lord Ramel Redding, YouthBuild Newark
•    Erich Kussman, Jamesburg Survivor and Princeton Seminary student
•    Rabbi Jesse M. Olitzky, Congregation Beth El, South Orange
•    Pastor Timothy Jones, Bethany Baptist Church, Newark
•    Valerie Slater, Juvenile Justice attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center and Coalition Coordinator, the RISE for Youth

About Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ)
Advocates for Children of New Jersey is the trusted, independent voice putting children’s needs first for more than 35 years. Our work results in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families. And it means that more children are given the chance to grow up safe, healthy, and educated. For more information, visit www.acnj.org. Follow ACNJ on Twitter @acnjforkids and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/acnjforkids.



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