Alliance for Safety and Justice
Alliance for Safety and Justice’s flagship project, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice continues to expand our network of crime survivors working together to heal communities and shape public policy. We are excited to announce the launch of our newest chapter in York, PA. York is our third chapter in Pennsylvania, with others in Harrisonburg and Lancaster. In the last year, we have more than doubled our nationwide membership to more than 30,000 survivor members across the country, and we have grown to 36 chapters across ten states. Each chapter is led by a regional chapter coordinator and is a key constituency weighing in on state crime policy conversations. Some recent media coverage from our newest chapter includes stories from ABC 27, Fox 43, York Dispatch, and the York Daily Record
The Prison Policy Initiative
The Prison Policy Initiative, in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, released an expanded and updated 2019 edition of the report Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie to present the most recent and comprehensive data on women’s incarceration in the U.S. Alarmingly, we find that the number of women in local jails is growing, with more women now behind bars in local jails than in state prisons. In fact, from 2016 to 2017, the women's jail population grew by more than 5%, even as the rest of the jail population declined. We also found that on any given night, 4,500 immigrant women are held for ICE in local jails – over half of all women held in immigration detention.
On Monday, Oct. 28, formerly incarcerated leaders including our own Norris Henderson and Bruce Reilly made history by hosting a presidential town hall about justice reform. Of the many Democratic candidates invited, only three--Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Tom Steyer--showed up. But the day pushed forward the truth that is past time for elected officials from the local to the worldwide levels to listen and be accountable to the millions of Americans living with convictions. Missed the livestream? Watch the recap here. As a massive group of people with a common experience, we have the power to vote together on the issues that affect our daily lives. This means that we are, in essence, a voting bloc, which is a group of voters who are strongly motivated by a specific common concern. We've already been voting together in the 2019 statewide elections, which end next Saturday, Nov. 16, in a run-off for Governor, Secretary of State, and more. In fact, thanks in large part to the efforts our statewide canvassers, last Saturday Louisiana voters set a state record for highest turnout in a single day of early voting.
We Got Us Now
We Got Us Now has been making progress at the local, state and national levels with our advocacy efforts. Our founder/CEO, Ebony Underwood co-authored the chapter: About Us, For Us, With Us: Collaboration as a Key to Progress in Research, Practice & Policy for the 2nd Edition Handbook on Children with Incarcerated Parents (2019). We produced a workshop and PSA from Oklahoma children with incarcerated parents. We partnered with and provided policy recommendations to the public education and legislative advocacy initiative led by our New Orleans leaders, Daughters Beyond Incarceration (DBI) in partnership with SPLC Louisiana Children’s Rights Team and Southern University Law Center, VOTE & Navigate Nola. We joined author, Mariame Kaba, at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC to discuss her NEW book, "Missing Daddy" and how to talk to children about incarceration. We published an article in The Appeal with Miriam Krinsky of Fair & Just Prosecution. Then, headed to Yale Law School where We Got Us Now leaders participated in a riveting, interactive panel discussion on Communities, Families, and the Impact of Extreme Sentences with progressive prosecutors from all across the country presented by Fair and Just Prosecution.
The Coalition to End Money Bond
The Coalition to End Money Bond recently marked two years since major pretrial reforms went into effect in Cook County. In September 2017, General Order 18.8A, a local court rule designed to limit the use of money bond, went into effect in felony cases in Cook County. The Order instructs judges to set money bonds only as a last resort and only in amounts that people can afford to pay and was issued by Cook County’s Chief Judge in response to a civil rights lawsuit challenging the county’s unconstitutional, wealth-based system of detention. Since the Order’s implementation, the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail on any given day has been reduced by more than 1,500. This drop has brought the number of people incarcerated pretrial down to the lowest levels Cook County has seen in more than 30 years. Despite this progress, there are still approximately 2,000 people in Cook County Jail on any given day only because they cannot afford to pay a money bond. The Coalition to End Money Bond's recent report, Protecting Pretrial Freedom: Two Years of Bond Reform in Cook County, documents the success of the General Order and highlights areas in which there is still need for improvement.
Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice
A report with the results of a randomized control trial was recently released on the San Francisco restorative justice diversion program we support through partnerships with Community Works West, Huckleberry Youth Programs, and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The study shows that the recidivism rate for youth who completed the program was only 13% within two years, compared to 53% of the control group who went through the traditional court process. Since 2014, the program has only been available to eligible youth ages 13-17, and as a result of this reduction in recidivism, plus positive feedback from crime survivors, youth, and other participants, the program will expand to include young adults ages 18-25. You can read more about the program’s success in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
On September 5, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in partnership with Civil Rights Corps, released Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety, a comprehensive platform that includes14 planks addressing reforms, organized into three overarching themes to, “Ensure Equity and Accountability in the Criminal-Legal System, “Build a Restorative System of Justice,” and “Rebuild Communities.” This roadmap was developed to provide actionable and meaningful steps that any community can take to create humane, equitable, and accountable criminal-legal systems at the federal, state, and local level. This transformative platform highlights the need for a new approach to public safety – one that rebalances government spending and prioritizes upfront investments in the communities that most urgently need them. Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond has been endorsed by 117 civil rights and justice organizations.
Fair and Just Prosecution
In October, FJP held a convening at Yale University with elected prosecutors from across the country to discuss the importance of revisiting decades-long and excessive sentences, hear from individuals who shared how second chances have allowed them to rebuild their lives and reconsider the role DAs can play in sentencing reform. Underscoring this important conversation, FJP also released a new video highlighting the voices of DAs on this critical issue; published an op-ed with fellow OP grantee Ebony Underwood, Founder and CEO of We Got Us Now, on the impact of incarceration on families; and held a public panel with Ebony and others whose parents have been incarcerated. FJP also continued to lift up the issue of conviction integrity with a new amicus brief in support of City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s efforts to exonerate a man who has spent nearly 25 years behind bars. Additionally, FJP highlighted immigration and drug policy issues in op-eds discussing the importance of DACA in building public trust and preserving public safety and the value of harm reduction practices as an effective and humane alternative to criminalization of substance use.