America prides itself on its standards of equity and justice, and much of our legislation reflects that spirit. However, knowing the laws, one's individual rights, and how "due process" works is as important a factor as the laws themselves. Unfortunately, our students often suffer from inequitable access to that information. Here are some resources that might help.
Five resources to help students understand legal issues that may come up during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Understanding Legal Issues
When a person needs information of a personal or confidential nature, they are frequently reluctant to approach a stranger to ask for help. The Legal Service of New Jersey - a non-profit legal aid organization - has set up a website to help overcome that obstacle. While not a replacement for actual legal advice or representation, the LSNJLAW website is a great place to gain a basic understanding of the legal issues involved in a specific situation. The website is easy to navigate and is divided into clear categories with access to resources, legal forms, manuals, and articles to help answer questions anyone might have. There is even a search function.
Legal Services of New Jersey
Legal Services of New Jersey, to quote their mission statement, "seeks to secure equal substantive and procedural justice for all economically disadvantaged people" and what greater mission is there? The organization manages a statewide effort to provide free legal assistance, information, and referrals to low-income people in civil matters. They can be reached either through the website's online intake form or by phone through their hotline. Just click on "EN ESPAÑOL" in the upper right corner to assess the Spanish version of the website.
ACLU of New Jersey
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 in reaction to the U.S. government's clampdown of the labor movement. One hundred years later, the ACLU of New Jersey - our local branch of the organization - is still defending our civil rights. The organization not only advocates for equitable legislation, but represents individuals in court as well. If one of your students feels their civil rights are being violated, they can file a complaint with the ACLU of NJ at the link above.
New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
Discrimination is a daily part of many of our lives, ranging from the slight to the severe. The State of New Jersey has a specific department for handling discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. As part of the state Office of the Attorney General, the Division on Civil Rights employs investigators, attorneys, and professional support staff to review discrimination complaints. The department also participates in educational outreach efforts on anti-discrimination laws.
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Landlord-Tenant Information
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has a fairly comprehensive Landlord-Tenant webpage with a slew of information to inform residential landlords and tenants of their rights and responsibilities. The webpage provides links to informational PDFs on the pertinent laws regarding a comprehensive list of landlord-tenant issues ranging from condominium conversion, eviction, lease termination, foreclosures, and more.
We hope you will find these resources helpful.