Community Foundation Heralds New Juvenile Justice Law

August 11, 2015

The Community Foundation of New Jersey, on behalf of its fundholders with whom it has partnered to reform New Jersey’s juvenile justice system, said today it is gratified that Governor Chris Christie signed S2003/A429, a bill that a bipartisan group of legislators worked to make happen. The bill makes several important reforms to the juvenile justice system, which came as a result of the tireless efforts of our partners on the ground whose work we have helped fund.

Our friends at the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Reform Coalition summarize the reforms as follows:

  • Raises the minimum age at which a child may be prosecuted as an adult from 14 to 15, narrows the list of offenses that can lead to prosecution as an adult, and amends the standard governing such decisions to reflect the continuing maturation of young people through their mid-twenties;
  • Requires due process, including representation by counsel, before a young person who is confined in a juvenile facility can be transferred to an adult prison; and
  • Eliminates the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure in juvenile facilities and detention centers, and places time limits on the use of solitary confinement for reasons other than punishment, such as safety concerns.

In early 2014, the Community Foundation of New Jersey first deployed a $30,000 grant to the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. The funding allowed the Project to hire an attorney who worked one-on-one with incarcerated youth to ensure their rights were honored and they were being properly rehabilitated. This work came in response to several reported abuses, and went on to uncover others. Initial funding led to a second year of support – with collaboration from 17 unique CFNJ fundholders as well as the Fund for New Jersey.

These abuses helped focus attention on the critical need to reform New Jersey’s juvenile justice system. All along, our colleagues and we have emphasized the importance of rehabilitation, so that the young people who return to our communities are ready to do so and to get on a better path toward completing their educations and joining the workforce.

We are proud to have had the support of our fundholders on this important work, and are gratified that it helped lead to these important policy changes. Click here for more on our Changemaker Projects.

A special thanks to those who sponsored the legislation: Senators Nellie Pou and Raymond Lesniak, and Assembly Members Shavonda Sumter, Charles Mainor, Benjie Wimberly, and Maria Rodriguez-Gregg.