Tuesday, November 10, 2015

from the desk of the Project Director:

President Obama in Newark

Newark was BUZZING with excitement on Monday, November 2nd as President Obama arrived to highlight the City’s contributions toward national criminal justice reform.  The President first met with staff and participants from New Jersey largest non-profit substance abuse treatment provider, Integrity House, as well as the Federal Reentry Court’s ReNew program where federal parolees are closely monitored but also supported by the court in obtaining housing, employment, education and other social supports.  Next on the agenda was a rousing speech at the Rutgers University Center for Law and Justice. The President introduced new federal grant funding for the reentry population and called on Congress to "ban the box" for federal job applications. He also praised Newark based initiatives that are making a real difference in the lives of ex-offenders stating, "You can't help but feel hopeful about the future."

But for me, perhaps the most exciting part of the President’s address was the fact that two of our Newark United Against Violence participants, Mr. Elijah Battle and Mr. Isa Poole, were invited to attend.  Elijah even got to shake the President’s hand! Selected because of their tremendous work and personal growth since joining NUAV, Isa and Elijah truly exemplify what individuals can achieve when given a second chance.

After the speech, Isa and Elijah joined CCI Director of New Jersey Programs, Jethro Antoine, and Chief Newark Municipal Court Judge, Hon. Victoria Pratt, for an evening roundtable discussion highlighting the efforts of My Brother’s Keeper Newark (MBKN) to reduce violence in the city and promote opportunities for young men of color. The event was led by William Simpson, Director, My Brother’s Keeper Newark and included Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Lata Reddy, President, Prudential Foundation; and Broderick Johnson, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary, MBK Task Force Chair.

It was a momentous day for Newark and so invigorating to see a national spotlight on the great work being done in this city.

More information:

White House Fact Sheet on the President's speech

2014 Star Ledger Op-Ed by US Attorney Paul Fishman about the ReNew program.

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