By: Richard L. Smith
The Honorable New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) have inaugurated the first Restorative and Transformative Justice Hub (RTJ Hub) in Newark, marking a significant step in reforming the state's youth justice system.The ceremony, held on February 5, celebrated the opening of this pioneering center in Essex County, with Attorney General Platkin and JJC Executive Director Dr. Jennifer LeBaron joining local leaders to unveil the hub.
Governor Phil Murphy expressed his enthusiasm for the project, emphasizing its role in building a stronger, fairer youth justice system by providing essential resources to young individuals in the community.
He highlighted the project as a continuation of the late Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver's legacy, who was deeply committed to the welfare of New Jersey's youth.
The initiative aims to be a cornerstone in transforming the way justice-involved youth are supported, focusing on offering the tools and resources necessary for them to lead healthy, successful lives.
The hub in Newark is the first of four planned across New Jersey, with future hubs to be established in Camden, Paterson, and Trenton.
The RTJ Hubs are designed to support youth and their families by using trauma-informed methods, encouraging participation in educational and vocational programs, and fostering mental health and well-being.
Furthermore, they aim to build stronger community ties with local law enforcement and legal entities to promote restorative justice practices over traditional punitive measures.
Managed by the United Community Corporation under the oversight of the Essex County Youth Services Commission, the Newark hub is a model for community-based public safety and justice reform.
It represents a collective effort to divert youth from the justice system and offer comprehensive care, including diversion and reentry wraparound services.
This initiative, enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver in 2021, demonstrates New Jersey's commitment to innovative and flexible approaches in guiding youth toward positive outcomes.
The JJC, in partnership with Rutgers University, will evaluate the effectiveness of the RTJ Hub programs, ensuring that the hubs not only meet but exceed their goals in transforming the youth justice landscape in New Jersey.