Home News Center New Jersey Closes Two Youth Prisons, Looks Towards Future

New Jersey Closes Two Youth Prisons, Looks Towards Future

January 30, 2018

Photo credit: Daniel Hedden --  taken at NJISJ’s rally on June 28, 2017 outside Jamesburg.

On June 28, 2017, Jamesburg’s 150th anniversary, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) with the support of Youth First and over 50 partner organizations launched “150 Years is Enough,” a campaign to close Jamesburg and Hayes and invest in the creation of a community-based system of care.

As a result, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his plan to close two of the state’s youth prisons—the New Jersey Training School for Boys (“Jamesburg”), the largest youth prison for boys, and the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility (“Hayes”), the state’s girls’ youth prison—and to build two youth rehabilitation centers based on national best practices.

“Governor Christie’s plan to close two of New Jersey’s failed youth prisons is one of the most significant youth justice reforms in 150 years,” said NJJN member Ryan P. Haygood, President and CEO of NJISJ, which launched a campaign in June to close Jamesburg and Hayes.

NJISJ President Ryan P. Haygood. Photo credit: Daniel Hedden

New Jersey has the worst racial disparities among its incarcerated black and white youth in the nation. A black child in New Jersey is, outstandingly, more than 30 times more likely to be detained or committed to a youth facility than a white child. This striking racial disparity persists even though black and white youth commit most offenses at similar rates.

Kathy Wright, NJJN YJLI Alum member and President of the New Jersey Parent’s Caucus advises advocates pursuing similar reform to “ensure that youth and families are involved in all levels of decision making and can play a strong and active role in the development of community based alternatives to incarceration.”

The Institute is releasing its transformative vision for youth justice in New Jersey, which you can find here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are indebted to Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, who wrote the article which formed the basis of this piece and for allowing us to adapt it for this publication.

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