With racial disparities in New Jersey’s criminal justice system among the highest in the nation, a panel of top legal and civil rights advocates, experts, organizations, and prison reform activists came together to host the second installment of the IMAGINE MORE: Racial Justice Begins with Us virtual event series: “Disrupting the Criminal Justice System.” IMAGINE MORE, led by The Fund for New Jersey, is a first-of-its-kind, 6-part virtual series that aims to educate the public on the need for reparations and offer accessible strategies for remedying racial injustice.

Event speakers for “Disrupting the Criminal Justice System” included Amol Sinha, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ); Kristin Henning, Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative, Georgetown Law; Nafeesah Goldsmith, Senior Criminal Legal Fellow, Salvation and Social Justice; and moderator Lawrence S. Lustberg, Trustee, The Fund for New Jersey. The speakers explained how the criminal justice system functions and outlined strategies to end the criminalization, over-incarceration, and inhumane confinement of New Jersey’s Black, brown, and immigrant residents.

“Despite committing most offenses at the same rate, there are 18 Black youth incarcerated for every white youth in New Jersey. This is the largest disparity in the nation and it’s even more alarming when you consider that New Jersey’s population is over 70% white. This is unacceptable, which is why The Fund for New Jersey and its co-sponsor partners brought together leading advocates, activists, and experts for this event,” explained Kiki Jamieson, President of The Fund for New Jersey. “We’d like to thank our speakers, who shared their knowledge of the criminal justice system, the harm that communities of color in New Jersey face, and solutions and policy measures that can help to address these issues now.”

Black adults are more than 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults in New Jersey, according to The Sentencing Project. This event addressed the root causes of these disparities and outlined what intentional efforts can be made to remedy the criminal justice system in the Garden State.

“Almost exactly two years after Breonna Taylor’s murder and the 2020 racial reckoning, America has yet to confront the racism in our system of justice that led to the protests that ensued. Countless promises and reforms were pledged by politicians and business leaders to address these inequities, however, many have yet to follow through,” stated Richard Roper, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Fund for New Jersey. “The IMAGINE MORE initiative is important because we need to keep the spotlight on the need to enact solutions that will repair the harms our criminal justice system has inflicted on historically marginalized communities. I am grateful to our speakers and supporters for lending their time and expertise to help push forward meaningful changes in how we address systemic racism in New Jersey.”

IMAGINE MORE launched in February during Black History Month with the first installment focusing on solutions to address New Jersey’s racial wealth gap, which is the highest in the nation. The upcoming events will continue to bring together an influential array of leaders to discuss disparities in housing, education, healthcare, and more.

● Achieving Safe and Healthy Homes
April 26, 2022
6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

● Reaching Equity in Education
May 17, 2022
6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

● Ensuring Health For All
June 21, 2022
6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

● Building Political Power of the Most Impacted
July 15, 2022
6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Following each event, participants are able to connect with organizations that are moving the needle on racial justice as well as receive resources and information to guide them on advocating within their own communities.

To watch “IMAGINE MORE: Racial Justice Begins with Us” events 1 and 2, go to https://www.imaginemorenj.org/

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