Dear Organizers of NJ 15NOW campaign.
On behalf of Decarcerate the Garden State, we are writing to express our support for, emdorsement of and / or co-sponsorship of the February 28 March Through Newark calling upon NJ and local governments to raise the minimum raise to $15 per hour.
As a statewide committee primarily concerned with building a movement that effectively fights to end mass incarceration in NJ and throughout the country, we see the link of the issue of lack of employment opportunity, the lack of jobs which provide a means to survive through a livable wage, consistent hours and full benefits to the issue of increased incarceration, particularly of Black, Latino and impoverished communities that are disproportionately impacted by lack of jobs and lack of jobs which provide a means toward survival. Impoverished communities (which includes Black and Latino populations and more) are making the bare minimum for survival-they cannot otherwise save, invest or purchase goods - often not even necessities.
The fight for livable wage – of at least $15 per hour for starters – can not be separated from the demand for access to livable wage jobs for all that need them to survive – the demand for full employment. If private industry is not able or willing to fully and adequately employ the masses of people that are struggling without gainful employment – then the funds that are squandered from the coffers of the federal government on bail outs of banking criminals, subsidies to companies that accrue profits for billionaires, militarism and war, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and other public services MUST BE REDIRECTED and instead funneled toward rebuilding the impoverished communities, refurbishing the schools, providing accessible public housing for all that need it, providing health clinics, dental clinics, day care and other badly needed projects to service the deprived impoverished communities and peoples throughout this state and nation. Meeting human needs adequately can easily lead to meeting full-time employment jobs needs for all willing and able to work.
We are impressed with the goals and efforts of 15 NOW to mobilize, organize and engage rank and file working people in the fight for 15. Likewise, our goals are to work directly with the youth targeted for mass incarceration as well as the incarcerated themselves and their families in a unified fight to end mass incarceration.
It is clear that some impoverished people – in debt for many reasons – with bills and costs of day to day survival piling beyond capacity to pay – often under penalty of arrest and incarceration if debts are not paid – with no access to decent livable wage humane treatment employment will do whatever it takes to feed their own, to take care of their own needs and those of their family, to pay down debt to avoid incarceration – even if it means turning to an alternative economy – risking their lives and risking their freedom – in order to survive. It is not complicated – it is a simple math equation. And when they get caught they can end up another incarcerated person.
For these reasons it is imperative for the Decarcerators of the Garden State to recognize these issues as focal points of a common struggle. And as we struggle for full employment, livable wage jobs, with consistent hours, humane treatment and benefits – we also have to remind everybody to include in the struggle complete lifting of all stigma for those who were formally incarcerated – not just banning the box. Jobs when they are provided need to be inclusive and available for those that have served time.
The first thing anyone wants when they return to the community is meaningful employment – almost everybody getting out has debt and has the threat of re-incarceration if they are unable to pay it down. And since the employment opportunities are not there in general – and it is many times worse for those who have a prison sentence behind them – the vicious cycle is bound to repeat itself. And the stigma against offenders must come to an end – not only for employment, but for housing and all public assistance. Otherwise – who are we kidding! The return to the community is only temporary.
We urge the $15 NOW support movement to continue to incorporate into its materials and its approach – as has been done in NJ – support for decarceration, for the NJ Decarceration Act, for full employment and an end to stigma for those returning from incarceration in employment and the availability of public assistance and housing.
We would like to support this event and also we would like the opportunity, if there are going to be public addresses of the marchers, we would like for a member of our committee to be availed the opportunity to address the demand for $15 NOW from our decarceration perspective as touched upon in this letter. Please let us know how we can endorse, sponsor and help build. We also invite a member of 15 NOW to volunteer to publish updates on the 15 NOW movement, including about this march at our blog site.
In Solidarity and with the unanimous support of Decarcerate the Garden State!