New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Established in 1999 by Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice's cutting-edge racial and social justice advocacy seeks to empower people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice and harness democratic power—from the ground up—in New Jersey. 

Known for our dynamic and independent advocacy aimed at toppling load-bearing walls of structural inequality to create just, vibrant and healthy communities, we are committed to exposing and repairing the cracks of structural racism in our foundation that erupt into earthquakes in communities of color. 

The Institute advocates for systemic reform that is at once transformative, achievable in the state and replicable in communities across the nation. 

The Institute’s programmatic focus rests upon three interconnected pillars: 

  1. Economic Justice 
  2. Criminal Justice Reform 
  3. Democracy and Justice 

The Guggenheim fellow would support the Institute's Criminal Justice Reform Pillar. Through our Criminal Justice Reform Pillar, the Institute is working to create a rational and effective criminal justice system that (1) strengthens communities by treating people, particularly communities of color and the most vulnerable among us, fairly and equitably; (2) provides alternatives to incarceration, particularly for youth; (3) protects constitutional rights; (4) ensures racial equality; and (5) transforming policing and public safety. The Institute is a member of the Independent Monitoring Team overseeing reforms to the Newark Police Department in response to a federal consent decree entered into between the Department of Justice and the City of Newark. Through this work, the Institute monitors reforms concerning community policing and bias-free policing while also serving as the primary community liaison between the monitoring process and the Newark community. Even as we implement reforms to create accountable policing, the Institute is simultaneously rethinking the entire institution of policing and is working toward reducing law enforcement’s footprint in our communities, with a focus on what community members need to feel – and be – safe and protected. The Institute is also a leader in youth justice reform in New Jersey, spearheading the 150 Years is Enough Campaign, a statewide coalition that seeks to ensure fair outcomes for youth involved in the justice system. The campaign employs a multi-pronged approach that aims to (1) promote racial equality and fair treatment for all youth at all points of contact with the justice system; (2) end youth incarceration; and (3) invest funds into community-oriented alternatives to incarceration. 

City/State

Newark, NJ

Internship Description

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 150 Years is Enough 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 

Policing and Public Safety 

Any police reform effort must center on the community’s voice so that new policies and practices directly address the safety needs of those communities. We take this approach in our role on the Monitoring Team overseeing reforms to the Newark Police Division under a federal consent decree, where, through community surveys, public meetings and ongoing community feedback, we ensure that community needs are at the heart of the reform process. 
It is essential that even as we implement reforms, we simultaneously rethink the entire institution of policing and work toward reducing its footprint in our communities, with a focus on what community members need to feel — and be — safe and protected. That includes investing in alternatives to policing that focus on demilitarization, the use of restorative justice, non-police first responder models, and increased funding for community resources that will allow communities to keep themselves safe without law enforcement intervention. 

Policing and Public Safety opportunities and responsibilities: 

  • Provide research support to the Institute's Refunding Communities campaign advocating for strengthening community-based responder systems and increasing funding for community resources. 
  • Attend coalition meetings to advance the passage of police accountability legislation. 

For students who are looking to gain experience in policy research and develop their professional networks while advancing social justice, Newark is a great place to be. It is less than 30 minutes by train from Manhattan, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Montclair. Newark itself is galvanized by its young and dynamic local leadership and boasts an admirable and effective spirit of collaboration among nonprofit organizations, law firms, and local government officials. 

# of weeks Required Dates Start Time End Time Public Transit Housing  Format
10 Flexible 9:00am 5:00pm Yes No Virtual/Remote

Housing Information

None.

Internship Qualifications

  • Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills 
  • Ability to identify problems and develop creative solutions 
  • Superior attention to detail 
  • Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously 
  • Ability to work collaboratively within a team  
  • A positive, professional attitude with excellent judgment and follow through 

Additional qualifications:

  • Experience working in an advocacy organization or in government, particularly in criminal justice reform 
  • Demonstrated passion for, and knowledge of, racial and social justice and a familiarity with the work and mission of the Institute 

Writing Sample

  • 5 to 10 page writing sample on which you are the primary author

Special Requirements 

  • Background Check
  • Vaccinations