EJUSA Launches Judge John J. Gibbons Fund for Justice

Gibbons banner
The Honorable John J. Gibbons, standard-bearer of the Gibbons law firm and a giant in the New Jersey legal community for five decades, will be honored on June 21st at a reception to mark the launch of a new fund in his name.

The Judge John J. Gibbons Fund for Justice at Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) will carry on his commitment to the rule of law and his belief that every person deserves respect and dignity.

“Judge Gibbons was a prominent leader in the historic effort that made New Jersey the first state to repeal the death penalty in more than 40 years,” said Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of EJUSA. “This year marks the 10th anniversary of New Jersey’s repeal of the death penalty. The Gibbons Fund at EJUSA will enable our organization to continue what we started in New Jersey, ending the death penalty across the country.”

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When police and community come together | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Training Day, Trumplandia
While there are many efforts to train police officers, trainings often fail to deeply connect police to the community and their needs. EJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative is highlighted in this piece as doing just that: “The officers and community members sit together, assigned to small groups and tasked with creating poster boards they will present to the class. In magic marker, they write out recommendations for how different institutions — the police department, of course, but also social services and public schools and local leadership — can implement trauma-informed policies and practices.”

Violence victims get help to become own heroes, The Detroit News
A hospital-based trauma violence intervention program, Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday (DLIVE), believes the ideal time to approach violence victims about changing their lives is when they’re hospitalized, and thinking about how they got there. EJUSA has been working with DLIVE to grow their capacity so they can apply for federal funding to expand their program.

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Newark police/community trainings unique and forging common ground

Experiencing Trauma

The deep divide between police and communities of color in the United States can often seem intractable. But EJUSA has a long history of bridging divides that once seemed insurmountable. Our newest project to do this is the Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence, piloted last year in Newark, NJ. The project was profiled in a recent article, “Training Day,” a story on the role training can have in transforming police culture, anti-violence efforts, and the relationship between police departments and communities of color.

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Meet Pastor Gwendolyn Cook, a fearless victim advocate for girls | NCVRW2017 profile

pastor cook and youthImagine surviving human trafficking, sexual abuse, assault, domestic violence, and gang exploitation all before the age of 13. Pastor Gwendolyn Cook sees it every day. She is the founder and director of Women Walking in the Spirit (WWITS) Girls Mentoring Program in Camden, NJ. Her organization works with young girls returning from juvenile detention at Hayes Secure Care Facility for Girls in Bordentown, NJ. The girls have survived severe and often multiple forms of trauma.

I’ve worked with Pastor Cook for over a year, helping WWITS to frame a narrative for their work and building a program model so they can gain new funding sources. WWITS is one of dozens of grassroots organizations across the country that I’ve had the honor to support over the last year and a half. These groups are providing healing for communities wrecked by violence, victimization, and trauma. I help them build capacity to access and maintain federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, preparing them for long-term success and creating more resources for healing. I am most inspired by the many groups who work with little to no funding, with volunteers as the lifeline — groups like Pastor Cook’s.

This profile is part of EJUSA’s series on National Crime Victims Rights Week.

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A focus on survivors of violent crime | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

This month, we have a special digest to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This month’s stories focus on crime survivors, their needs in the wake of violence, and challenges facing communities to address those needs.

Christie’s neglect leaves crime victims without help, The Star-Ledger
Only 1/3 of the money that New Jersey is supposed to spend on crime victims actually reaches them. That is devastating for groups who are providing healing services in the most marginalized areas of their communities, addressing unmet needs, specifically in in neighborhoods of color. Through our Police/Community Initiative, EJUSA’s Fatimah Loren Muhammad is working with crime survivors and police in Newark and beyond to reimagine a system in which survivors get what they need in the wake of harm. Continue Reading →

EJUSA joins in discussion about race, police, and the community in Newark

YouTube thumbnailEJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative on Trauma Informed Responses to Violence has been bringing together police officers, residents, survivors of violence, justice-involved citizens, social workers, and faith leaders to discuss the trauma that exists on both sides of the relationship between the police and community. More and more members of the Newark community are eager to participate in the groundbreaking initiative, which will begin its fifth session of trainings next month.

Trauma Advocacy Initiative Director Fatimah Loren Muhammed recently joined the mayor of Newark as well as law enforcement leaders, clergy, academics, service providers, and other community leaders on a panel discussion organized by local Newark TV host Steve Adubato. The panel looked at the complex and sometimes confrontational relationship between the police and the minority community and ways to begin to move forward. Continue Reading →

Together, Newark police and community use understanding of trauma to call for system change

Newark Community Talk Back

Since last spring, more than 150 police officers, residents, survivors of violence, justice-involved citizens, social workers, and faith leaders came together last fall to participate in EJUSA’s inaugural Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence  in Newark, New Jersey. Through the initiative, participants learn about structural racism, trauma-informed practices, and work together to generate recommendations calling upon the police leaders and city/state government to make changes that will improve police/community relations and reduce violence and trauma.

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Spring 2017 Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence – Newark, NJ

VIOLENCE word cloud graphicEJUSA is excited to be launching a second round of trainings in Newark, NJ to increase the capacity for police and the community to build mutual understanding of the other’s trauma and respond to trauma in the wake of violence. This spring, a team of facilitators will be leading trainings on trauma-informed responses to violence with the Newark Police Department and Newark community members: “Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence”

Read about our first series of trainings in Fall 2016 here.

The goal of this training is to understand the symptoms of community trauma and vicarious trauma as well as build necessary skills to address and problem-solve when trauma arises. These trainings will focus on community/police partnerships, and each group training will consist of the following:

  • 3 weekly sessions, 4 hours each* at Liberating Word Ministries, 126 Mt Pleasant Ave, North Newark, NJ 07104.
  • Participants will include 15-20 police officers and 15-20 community members.
  • Learn about trauma symptoms, ACES, historical trauma, and the cycle of violence.
  • Hands-on skills-building and problem solving activities that will be customized for trainees on the front lines addressing violence and trauma.
  • A focus on addressing special populations, including boys/men of color, LGBT communities, girls and women, etc.

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Newark event – Talk Back: Police/Community Trauma Trainings In Action

Join us for a Community Talk Back about the recent trauma trainings for Newark Police and Community.

Talk Back: Police/Community Trauma Trainings In Action
Wednesday, January 25th
5:30pm – 8:30pm
Refreshments at 5:30, prompt start at 6pm.
Located at the HUBB 135 Prince St., Newark between Court and W Kinney Streets (Lower Level)

Over 150 Newark residents, community leaders, and police officers participated in trainings to learn tactics that help both community and police break cycles of trauma and address the needs of survivors. Join us at the talk back to learn how the trauma trainings are impacting Newark and take action to break cycles of violence and trauma in the community.
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With Libations and Justice for All – a beautiful and successful evening with the EJUSA Associate Board

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I joined EJUSA’s Advisory Board in August, and this past Thursday I attended my first Holiday Party, an annual Advisory Board tradition to build support for EJUSA’s work.

While the last few months have put forth challenges as we process the difficult results of a tumultuous election cycle, there is tremendous reason to be positive. Even though the movement to end the death penalty faced setbacks in November, the momentum to replace a punitive and unproductive justice system with one grounded in victims’ perspectives and healing has never been stronger.

Equal Justice USA, and the community that surrounds it, has a great amount to look forward to as 2017 approaches. As a member of the Associate Board, a group of young professionals working to build support and spread the word about EJUSA’s work, my feelings of hope and excitement for the coming year were reinvigorated at this year’s Holiday Party.

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