Last June, several hundred protesters observed the 150-year anniversary of a New Jersey prison for boys known as Jamesburg by gathering at its gates and calling for the facility to finally be shut down. Six months later, outgoing Gov. Chris Christie announced that Jamesburg and another prison for girls would be closing this year.
Retha Onitiri, a juvenile justice campaign manager with the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, said it was a “miracle” that 300 to 400 people showed up to the protest at Jamesburg last summer. The youth prison is located in a remote area of the state with no public transportation.
“So, people were really able to see what it was like for families who are low-income,” Onitiri said. “They were not able to get out there [and see their children] for years.”