Rev. Charles Boyer and Retha Onitiri, Institute Juvenile Justice Campaign Manager, write for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange:
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Today, the first day of Black History Month, faith leaders from across New Jersey are joining together to condemn one of the major injustices of our time: the stark racial disparities within our state’s youth prisons.
These grave racial inequities were laid bare in a recent report by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, entitled “Bring Our Children Home: Ain’t I A Child.” Despite the fact that Black and white children have similar rates of offending, Black children make up almost 75% of those committed to juvenile facilities in our state. Indeed, Black youth are more than 24 times more likely to be placed in a secure juvenile facility than white children.