Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Press Release: Activists to Launch Movement to “Decarcerate the Garden State” with Panel Discussion on Steps of Newark City Hall on July 30

Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State
P.O Box 25331, Newark NJ 07101 Decar@DecarcerateNJ.org
973-223-2114 / 908-881-5275

Contact:               Cassandra Dock 973-223-2114 

Activists to Launch Movement to “Decarcerate the Garden State” with Panel Discussion on Steps of Newark City Hall on July 30

Newark residents with others from around the state have been busy organizing and preparing to launch a major push for “large scale” prison release in NJ.  They have sent a letter to NJ Senator Ron Rice, who represents Essex County, urging him to introduce a bill they are calling “The NJ Decarceration Act.”  Sen. Rice responded by meeting with the group and suggesting that they provide him with a proposed bill.

The group has formed the Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State and its next major step is to hold a “street panel discussion” on the steps of Newark City Hall on Wednesday, July 30 at 5:30 pm.  In the event of inclement weather the organizers of the event have arranged to hold the event inside City Hall.

The panel discussion will feature 3 parts:

Part 1: The System is the Criminal - Overview of Mass Incarceration Issue

The keynote speaker will be Johanna Fernandez, a professor at Baruch College in the CUNY system in the Department of African and Latino Studies and an advocate for decarceration, prisoners rights and political prisoners.  Other panelists will address the issues of political prisoners and immigrant mass detention/

Part 2: What is Political, Social and Economic Impact to Newark Community of Mass Incarceration and What Should Newark Do About It?

Participants in this panel will include Yah Ya Gray of Peoples Organization for Progress, Beautiful SeeAsia of Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, Donna Jackson and possibly others.

Part 3: Decarcerate the Garden State: Toward the NJ Decarceration Act and How Do We Mobilize and Organize for Large Scale Effective and Lasting Decarceration of our Communities and State

Participants will include representatives of Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State, Jean Ross and  Bonnie Kerness, veteran prisoner advocates, Renee Felton, whose son was blinded by a police bullet and recently sentenced to 16 years in Jersey City and possibly others.

The event is sponsored by the Committee to  Decarcerate the Garden State.  It is endorsed by NJ Communities United, Newark Anti-Violence Coalition and Peoples Organization for Progress.

The Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State is also working on the launch of a newspaper called The NJ Decarcerator which they will have available at this event.  The Newark discussion is viewed as a pilot event and the committee plans to organize similar events around the state of NJ. 

They intend to “unite those communities targeted by mass incarceration.”

The group also has been circulating an on-line petition with around 1100 signers so far calling for passage of the NJ Decarceration act.  The petition can be read and signed at this link:


Those interested in getting more details about the event are encouraged to call the Committee to  Decarcerate the Garden State at 973-223-2114 or 908-881-5275 or e-mail Decar@DecarcerateNJ.org .
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