2022-2023 Annual Report A smaller justice system + Safer communities2022-2023 Annual Report A smaller justice system + Safer communities

Dear Community,

Two and a half years ago, I set out to build an organization that could help usher in the next chapter of the criminal justice system in America. One that prioritizes prevention, safety, and accountability over punishment alone. One we could actually be proud of.

I had an unprecedented $350 million, five-year commitment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – which, as a lifelong advocate, felt simultaneously catalytic and like a drop in the bucket. What could any organization possibly have against an $80+ billion status quo decades in the making? How could we advance this issue in a post-pandemic world where certain crimes are up, people are feeling unsafe, and so many leaders are turning back to ineffective tough on crime solutions? Well, we had a plan.

And what we built is more than a strategy to move money. It is a roadmap for leveraging the incredible work that came before us, and for supercharging it in a way that addresses the unique moment we’re in. It is a roadmap for proving that criminal justice reform is more than ending mass incarceration – it’s a strategy to proactively create safer, stronger communities. 

That’s just what we’re doing. 

As you’ll see in this report, smart, safety-driven criminal justice reform IS happening, and our two organizations – The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action – are proud to be part of it. And I don’t mean the ideological debate between soft and tough on crime – tearing down every prison or building one on every corner. Neither of these frameworks tangibly address crime, and neither shows us how to hold people accountable in a way that heals and creates better neighbors.

The work we’re powering lies in between, and focuses on making smart changes to our justice system so that it works harder to keep people out than in. I’m talking about data-driven policy efforts led by both conservative and progressive coalitions to change outdated and disproven laws. I’m talking about groups working alongside law enforcement to create a more nuanced menu of approaches to community safety. I’m talking about the work to shrink the footprint of the criminal justice system, bit by bit, and to build policies and infrastructure that create better outcomes for all. 

In the last 18 months alone, our state and national advocacy partners – often working together in politically diverse coalitions – fought for smart policy change in nearly every state. And their wins aren't just numbers on paper. In real life, this work means someone gets a job thanks to a cleared record. It’s a parent being home with their kids sooner, instead of incarcerated longer because of messy data. It’s people getting the help and support they need when they are in a mental health crisis. It’s someone getting access to powerful, proven rehabilitation programs and being set up for success upon reentry, so they can contribute to their communities instead of returning to crime to make ends meet. 

We launched the Safer Communities Accelerator in December of 2022 with funding from The Just Trust for Education. Our partners, from the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to the Community Based Public Safety Collective, are working to offer different and more effective solutions for preventing crime and meeting people where they are in their worst moments. 

The Just Trust for Action produced and disseminated research and messaging tools for leaders working across the political spectrum to help them navigate the ever changing cultural and political tide on this issue.

This tiny snapshot of momentum is the stuff we can’t let up on. This is shrinking the footprint. This is investing in safety. This is us giving it everything we’ve got – grants, narrative work, real time polling data and message development, research tools, convenings, and coalition building – to power change. This is why we’re moving this scale of resources, diversifying and leveraging capital, building unlikely alliances, filling gaps, and ensuring we never let momentum slip, slow down, or get sidelined. 

Truly, none of this would have been possible without the support of so many who believed in us, and in me. Thank you to our early field advisors, who co-created our theory of change. Thank you to all of our grantees for the work you do every day, especially when it’s hard. Thank you to my philanthropic counterparts and mentors, several of whom co-funded parts of the work mentioned below. Thank you to our first funders, Dr. Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, for recognizing that the fight for safety and justice is essential to unlocking America’s full potential. And thank you to my parents, who left Costa Rica before I was born for the land of freedom and promise; my incredible brother, who spent my whole childhood cycling through that new country’s justice system and inspires my work today; and to everyone supporting me now. 

If you’re just joining us, thank you for being here as well. Our sleeves are already rolled up, and we hope yours are, too.

Ana Zamora's signature
The Just Trust for Education, The Just Trust for Action
Ana Zamora
Founder & CEO
The Just Trust
Collage of three photos, each of two people holding a handwritten sign stating "Everyone deserves a fair chance." Overlay with the North Carolina Justice Center logo.
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North Carolina Justice Center
Photo of Ana ZamoraPhoto of The Just Trust's board members
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VOTE
A group of people sitting in chairs, speaking to each other. Overlay of a VOTE logo.
Our theory of changeOur theory of change

There are a lot of truths about the justice system in the United States:

It doesn’t make us safer and devastates communities
It is massive and expensive
It directly impacts half of all adults and millions of kids

and so on.

One thing that is NOT true, however, is that it’s unchangeable.
That it’s too far gone.

Advocates and allies across the country have already made huge progress in slowing and reversing the expansion of the criminal justice system in the United States, and in seeding the infrastructure for something that better serves communities. We want to help escalate and streamline that momentum. We want to unlock the bold, creative solutions for safety and justice this country needs and deserves.

At The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action, we’re activating every lever for change at full speed to do just that.

The Toolbox

Scaling & diversifying resources
Coalition building across the political & ideological spectrum
Research & tools development
Strategy & impact analysis
501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) support for:
State & national advocacy infrastructure
Narrative change, media & communications
New & proven models for safety
Strategic ballot measures, legislative campaigns & implementation

For a smaller system that...

Prevents crime
Centers safety
Holds people accountable
Rehabilitates & creates better neighbors
Upholds dignity & grace
Heals
Partners in ActionPartners in action
The Just Trust for Education, The Just Trust for Action

Here’s a quick look at what some of our partners have been up to over the last 18 months since The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action started supporting the field. In this tough cultural and political moment for reform, we’ve been amazed at the resiliency of advocacy organizations, big and small. They’re educating the public on real safety solutions, developing evidence-based policy, fighting off bad bills, pushing through better ones, shifting narratives, working together across party lines, and getting things done. 

We know this map is just one snapshot in time and of the work we support, and focuses solely on policy reform through (c)(3) and (c)(4) legislative advocacy. But even seeing this small slice of the pie (with momentum in almost every state) gives us hope that change is possible. Certainly, much of this work also started long before we came onto the scene – because durable change takes a lot longer than a legislative session or two – and much of it has also been supported by other funders that care deeply about reform. 

Whoever said it takes a village, they sure weren’t kidding.

State of the States

As we all know, the U.S. is the world’s top incarcerator, but how that actually plays out in states looks very different. Reform is needed everywhere, but the problem statement is different in Louisiana than it is in West Virginia or Oregon. That’s why the solutions need to look different, too. Keep scrolling for a look at how advocates are working to change this in the ways that work best for their state at this moment.

We created a scoring system for each state by calculating a weighted average of each state’s prison population and imprisonment rate. Based on a state's score, it is placed in one of three tiers: Low, Medium, or High.

The Work

Partners of The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action pushed to pass, defeat or implement over 230 pieces of legislation and narrative campaigns* in 39 states in the last 18 months. View all wins*.

Map Key
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative

State of the States

As we all know, the U.S. is the world’s top incarcerator, but how that actually plays out in states looks very different. Reform is needed everywhere, but the problem statement is different in Louisiana than it is in West Virginia or Oregon. That’s why the solutions need to look different too. Keep scrolling for a look at how advocates are working to change this, in the ways that work best for their state in this moment.

We created a scoring system for each state by calculating a weighted average of each state’s prison population and imprisonment rate. Based on a state's score, it is placed in one of three tiers: Low, Medium, or High.
AK
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WI
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VT
ME
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
IL
MI
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NY
MA
NH
OR
NV
WY
SD
IA
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
RI
CA
UT
CO
NE
MO
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
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AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
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OK
LA
MS
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HI
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FL
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The Work

Partners of The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action pushed to pass, defeat or implement over 230 pieces of legislation and narrative campaigns* in 39 states in the last 18 months. View all wins*.

Map Key
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
*The total number of wins reported includes those shown on the map & in this database, as well as just under 50 efforts we are still tracking in real time or were incremental and may be picked up in another session.
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State
win
partners
legislation
State
AL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alabama Appleseed, Alabama Arise
legislation

Alabama Appleseed worked to pass SB154, which curtails poverty-based suspensions of driver's licenses in Alabama

State
AL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

The ACLU of Alabama hosted a Smart Justice organizing school for eight months of the year, during which participants focused on skill-building in legislative advocacy, organizing, and deepening their knowledge of the criminal legal system

State
AL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alabama Arise, Alabama Appleseed
legislation

Partnering on the implementation of the Early Release bill, HB2, which passed with bipartisan support in 2021, and went into effect Jan. 1, 2023. Since January 2023, over 400 people have been released from Alabama Department of Corrections back into the community

State
AR
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Held 2 days of empathy events in Arkansas, including at the capitol

State
AR
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Starting in 2024, folks who are returning from incarceration in Arkansas will have their fines and fees suspended for 120 days

State
AR
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union
legislation

Assisted members in garnering support for SB 495, which was signed by the newGovernor, and especially worked to include training and educating CO's on how to handle pregnant prisoners, allowing visitation with minor children, ensuring that if a woman gives birth to her newborn inside that she will be allowed up to 72 hours with her baby, and finally, setting up specialty courts for drug addiction and mental health

State
AR; AZ; KY; MO; MS; PA; WI; OR; WA; GA; OH; NE; MI
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Held Day of Empathy events for over 1,000 people in 13 states AR, AZ, KY, MO, MS, PA, WI, OR, WA, GA, OH, NE and MI.

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Secured $7 million for two Trauma Recovery Centers

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union, ACLU
legislation

Defeated HB 2167, which would have applied felony murder rule for deaths related to fentanyl

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Arizona’s Day of Empathy, held in partnership with the Arouet Foundation, brought together directly impacted individuals, business leaders, service providers and legislatures to build momentum for justice reform

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Passed HB 2055 which authorizes early termination from probation for peoplewho are working

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Passed HB 2604, which gives survivors more time to make necessary accommodations for safety when their lives are in danger; gave $2 million in recurring funds and $10 million in one-time American Rescue Plan appropriations to the victim's compensation program

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
FAMM
legislation

Worked with Gov. Hobbs to secure an executive order in January to create an independent oversight commission

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Helped pass HB 2594, which establishes criteria for Trauma Recovery Centers in Arizona

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Deam.org
legislation

Opposed bills that would increase penalties for Fentanyl, including SB 1027 which was vetoed by the governor. Dream.org's directly impacted staff members told their stories of recovery and why increasing drug penalties are punitive and people of Arizona need resources for substance use disorder and not jail cells

State
AZ
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Passed SB 1290 to strengthen reentry support by providing much needed documentation to those who are being released passed unanimously out of committee in Arizona

State
AZ; AR; KY; MS; MO; WI; PA; WA; OR
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

22 directly impacted leaders from around the country completed the three month Empathy Network Advocacy Cohort training, where they learned legislative advocacy, digital advocacy, organizing, storytelling and many other important competencies to do effective reform work. Many of these leaders went on to lead 2023 state legislative campaigns in nine legislative states of AZ, AR, KY, MS, MO, WI, PA, WA, & OR

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

AB 1949 will expand employment protection via access to bereavement leave protections for survivors of crime

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

SB 1720 will reduce employment barriers for people with a conviction seeking community care licensure

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

AB 1924 will reduce barriers to employment for people onprobation

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

SB 731 will create a process to “sunset” old convictions and arrest records and affect more than 1 million Californians

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
legislation

With survivor advocates, pushed through AB2169, which ensures that survivors of intimate partner violence and human trafficking have an effective mechanism to erase from their records arrests or convictions they suffered that were caused by their abuse

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Equal Justice USA
legislation

Supported AB 256, a bill which prohibits the state from seeking or imposing a sentence, based upon race, ethnicity or national origin

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Drug Policy Action, Impact Justice
legislation

Co-sponsored AB 2195, which created an alternative charge to drug offenses, allowing immigrants and US citizens to avoid many damaging consequences a drug conviction presents

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

SB 1017 strengthens eviction protections by ensuring victims cannot be evicted due to experiencing a crime

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Advocated for the CA budget; Gov. Newsom’s 2022-23 budget contained over $500M in Shared Safety investments - a new record in the state; includes includes deeper investments in mental health, expanded resources for survivors and an increase in Prop. 47 savings

State
CA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

In coalition with local partners, defeated nearly a dozen bills that would have repealed critical aspects of Prop. 47 and undone nearly a decade of progress in the state

State
CO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

CSI partners passed SB 22-099, the Colorado Clean Slate Act in 2022. In 2023, partners are working on implementation of the law

State
CO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

CSI partners passed SB 22-099, the Colorado Clean Slate Act in 2022. In 2023, partners are working on implementation of the law

State
CO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Stand For Children
legislation

Worked alongside local partners to pass SB 23 - 39 which will create rules and guidelines for keeping parents as connected as possible with their children during their incarceration, including eliminating the parent's incarceration and related conditions as a basis for terminating the parent-child relationship

State
CO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Stand for Children
legislation

Worked alongside local partners to pass HB 23 - 1133 to eliminate costs for phone calls for people in detention, and prohibiting facilities from incurring any revenue

State
CT
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Reduced barriers for occupational licensing for people with felony convictions

State
CT
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Passed HB 5248 allowing previously incarcerated people to get an occupational license

State
CT
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
legislation

The National Council launched the FreeHer Campaign in 6 New England states which uses a distributed organizing, deep canvassing campaign model to educate and shift publicopinion about the need to end incarceration of women and girls and stop proposed new women’s prisons in Massachusetts and Vermont

State
FL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice, American Conservative Union
legislation

Passed SB 376 which expands automatic record sealing for arrests notresulting in convictions to local courts

State
FL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union
legislation

Supported the successful push for SB 1478 which passed, and creates alternative sanctions to arrest and incarceration for prisoners in the State who commit technical or low level violations

State
FL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Won $8.9 million across four violence prevention buckets with $1.6 million each for reentry, high-risk intervention, and victim services/survivor advocacy; won $2 million for small community- based violence prevention and victim services groups that cannot typically access government grants

State
FL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Passed HB 233 which allows families of homicide victims to access basicinformation about their cases from law enforcement

State
FL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Right on Crime
legislation

HB195 broadened juvenile expungement of their arrest records for non-violent felonies and misdemeanors

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Vera Action
legislation

Leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, Vera Action briefed more than 40 candidates, caucuses, committees, and elected officials on how candidates should talk about crime, safety, and justice

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Vera Action
legislation

Produced six rounds of comprehensive, robust public opinion research and message testing to understand what matters about crime, safety, and justice to a wide variety of audiences and to develop affirmative messages about safety as well as inoculation messages to counter fearmongering and “tough on crime” attacks

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
legislation

Led the narrative campaign around a New Way Forward, a bill presenting an affirmative vision of steps that could be taken to disentangle the criminal and immigration systems and repair the harms of unjust immigration laws

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Worked with the DOJ to overturn a Trump-era memo that would have sent thousands of people back to prison once the COVID-19 pandemic ended. Because of this decision, thousands of families are able to plan for a future together.

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
JustLeadership USA
legislation

Launched the JustUs Coordinating Council: a national network of systems-impacted individuals across all 50 states, including D.C., that informs decision-making at the federal, state, and local policy levels

State
Federal
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
FAMM
legislation

Pushed the US Sentencing Commission to change its guidelines, which have now been sent to Congress

State
GA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union, Vera Action
legislation

Successfully removed provisions in SB 92 the Prosecutor Oversight Bill thatwould have removed discretion from all elected district attorneys while significantly loweringthe threshold for recall elections, jeopardizing the independence of investigations

State
GA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Vera Action
legislation

Defeated legislation that threatened to remove prosecutors who exercise their discretion to decline to prosecute certain kinds of cases

State
ID
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Helped defeat a bill that would unnecessarily expand mandatory minimums for sex offenders, who already receive severe punishments

State
ID
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union
legislation

ACU supported HB 149, which expanded the eligibility for individuals to have their record sealed from public view

State
ID
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
American Conservative Union, Right on Crime
legislation

Blocked HB 67, a bill to increase penalties for fentanyl possession

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

In coalition with partners, stopped a bill that would increase the number of juvenile offenses being referred to an adult court

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
REFORM Alliance
legislation

Passed SB 423 to increase government transparency and accountability through processes that streamline early termination for people on mandatory supervised release (MSR), incentivize education and work through expanding the earned credits systems for people on MSR, and reduce technical violations and increase quality of life for people on all forms of supervision in the state by expanding remote reporting. Impacts 300,000+ people over the next 5 years while saving the state millions.

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

In coalition with partners, Blocked HR 598, which called for the repeal of the SAFE T Act and bail reforms

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

In coalition with partners, stopped two bills that would have created new mandatory minimums (including the possibility of a life sentence)

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Advocated for this upcoming fiscal year’s budget, which contains the largest appropriation in Illinois history (more than $500 million) for Shared Safety including victims service, public safety, and mental health in the 2022 state budget

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Vera Action
legislation

Supported a coalition of advocates and TA providers to provide communications and narrative strategy guidance as the Pretrial Fairness Act inches towards implementation

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Secured $38 million in authorized of state funds for Trauma Recovery Centersfor survivors and social service resource centers to address trauma and poverty

State
IL
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Stand For Children
legislation

Worked alongside local partners to pass SB 3621 which eliminated Juvenile fines and fees

State
IN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Stand For Children
legislation

Worked alongside local partners to pass HB 1493 which eliminated Juvenile fines and fees

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
KY Center for Economic Policy,  Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, ACLU of KY, Dream.org, Right on Crime, KY Chamber of Commerce
legislation

Helped pass HB310 to expand time served credits for pretrial home incarceration for those without GPS monitors

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU of KY, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Right on Crime, KY Chamber of Commerce
legislation

Advanced a 10 year, 4 county pilot program (SB90) diverting those with Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder from pretrial services and jail to community supports

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
KY Center for Economic Policy, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, and ACLU of KY
legislation

Defeated HB/SB 313, which would have restricted or eliminated charitable bail funds.

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org, VOCAL KY, KY Center for Economic Policy, ACLU of KY, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Right on Crime, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
legislation

In Kentucky, Passed HB 353 to decriminalize fentanyl testing strips passed, signed by Governor

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Dream.org
legislation

Continued the “Public Health is Public Safety'' campaign to bring business leaders, law enforcement, victims groups, faith leaders, healthcare professionals, and directly impacted Kentuckians together to talk about drug policy in the state, and how we make policy that better serves Kentuckians who are overcriminalized

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU of KY, KY Chamber of Commerce, KY Center for Economic Policy, Dream.org, Right on Crime, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, KY Chamber of Commerce
legislation

Worked to defeat HB3, a harmful juvenile justice system bill

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU of KY, KY Center for Economic Policy
legislation

Defeated a Juvenile Justice Bill (SB 3) and successfully advocated for removal of some of the more punitive elements of the legislation

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky established the Sycamore Fund as a model for region-wide grantmaking to support meaningful, realistic, and effective strategies for directly impacting systems related to mass incarceration

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

Worked in Floyd County in Eastern Kentucky to create a bail fund

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

Supported new position for those in recovery or incarceration with criminal justice prevention services, including expungement, fines and fees, consumer bankruptcy

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
KY Chamber of Commerce, ACLU of KY, KY Center for Economic Policy
legislation

Advocated for a bill which originally expanded educational opportunities for formerly incarcerated people by allowing them to access a KY Educational Excellence Scholarship. After the legislature made changes to the bill, KY Policy and the ACLU of KY opposed the bill and KY Chamber of Commerce worked to get the most harmful provisions, including a lifetime ban on state scholarships for formerly incarcerated people through need-based College Access Program and Work Ready Scholarship taken out of the legislation through direct lobbying. However, when the bill was passed with the provisions intact, KY Policy, ACLU of KY, and Dream.org successfully secured a governor's veto (SB 163).

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

Helped expand an expungement law for juveniles (HB 369) to all status of misdemeanors and felonies

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

Added a resource coordinator position to assist people returning from prison with necessary documentation so they can access government benefits

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission made a series of grants to legal aid groups throughout Kentucky to expand Project Renew, a pilot program created through the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky’s partnership with Appalred and Mountain Comprehensive Care Center to provide civil legal services and resource access to people in jail and addiction recovery

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
legislation

Provided services approximately 1,000 incarcerated people in a rural county through resource coordination, legal services, and wraparound funds designed to facilitate re-entry after incarceration

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU of KY
legislation

Advanced medical cannabis legalization bill (SB47)

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU of KY
legislation

Spearheaded a campaign to create the Community Stakeholders for Change at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, which led to 12,000 expungements of bench warrants 5 years and older for certain non-violent misdemeanors and Class D felonies without penalties. 400 cases were cleared of which 300 included restitution.

State
KY
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
KY Chamber of Commerce, ACLU of KY, KY Center for Economic Policy, Dream.org
legislation

Successfully weakened a bill that increased criminal penalties for fentanyl; partners provided testimony, policy analysis and public education, direct lobbying of legislators and talking points

State
LA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Promise of Justice Initiative
legislation

Historic improvements to accessibility were made to the Crime Victims Reparations Fund (CVR) during the 2022 Legislative Session. These reforms allowed for victims to access support without having to go through law enforcement, Louisiana became only 1 of 3 states to permit this. Louisiana Survivors for Reform and victim advocates worked with legislators to unanimously pass HB 648, signed into law

State
LA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Justice and Accountability Center, Stand for Children
legislation

State Senator Royce Duplessis (D - District 5) worked with the Justice and Accountability Center to author and pass SB 111, also known as the “New Endings and Opportunities Act," which will impact 1.3 million Louisianians with records. The bill will provide system upgrades to streamline and automate the expungement process, enhance communication between various departments, and eliminate the filing costs associated with expungement applications.

State
LA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
VERA LA
legislation

Partnered with local organizers in the City of New Orleans to oppose plans for construction of a “Phase III” facility to house people with mental illness. The goals are to stop the construction of another jail, improve the conditions of the current jail, and dramatically reduce the number of people with behavioral health issues being brought to the City’s jail by creating a community-based continuum of care.

State
LA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Louisiana Parole Project
legislation

Louisiana Parole Project worked with State Representative Barbara Freiberg (R - District 70), to advance Act 276 (formerly HB 444) which expands eligibility beyond a high school equivalency diploma to include an adult literacy program, adult basic education program, or job skills training program for hearing eligibility. This is particularly important to persons who, when they entered prison decades ago, were denied access to many educational program due to their sentences. The revised law also creates a path for those with cognitive disabilities or other learning barriers to earn the opportunity for release. Prior to this change certain individuals who could not pass the high school equivalency test would be barred from parole eligibility despite having displayed rehabilitation in all other aspects of their life.

State
LA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
VERA LA
legislation

Launched a comprehensive datahub entitled, “Louisiana Locked Up: A Problem in Every Parish” to address and rectify the significant lack of transparency and accessibility of parish-level incarceration data, which is a core component for holding policymakers accountable for advancing systemic change

State
MA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
legislation

The National Council launched the FreeHer Campaign in 6 New England states which uses a distributed organizing, deep canvassing campaign model to educate and shift publicopinion about the need to end incarceration of women and girls and stop proposed new women’s prisons in Massachusetts and Vermont

State
MA
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Secured the passage of, and a veto override for, the governor’sveto of a bill that will allow all qualified residents to apply for a driver’s license,regardless of their immigration status

State
MD
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Secured the passage of, and a veto override for, legislation that removed thegovernor from the parole process (SB 202)

State
MD
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Worked in coalition to implement police accountability boards andfight off Fraternal Order of Police-backed amendments to weaken communityoversight in some jurisdictions

State
MD
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Worked in coalition to implement police accountability boards andfight off Fraternal Order of Police-backed amendments to weaken communityoversight in some jurisdictions

State
ME
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Supported LD 1862 which strengthens Maine's good samaritan law

State
ME
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
legislation

The National Council launched the FreeHer Campaign in 6 New England states which uses a distributed organizing, deep canvassing campaign model to educate and shift publicopinion about the need to end incarceration of women and girls and stop proposed new women’s prisons in Massachusetts and Vermont

State
MI
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

ASJ worked to pass HB 4674 & 4675 which expands the list of supports eligible to be covered by victims compensation, extends the time frame to file a victim compensation application and increases the amount of compensation available to survivors

State
MI
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
ACLU
legislation

Through litigation, settled a federal lawsuit to overhaul the city of Detroit's bail system and leveraged the Detroit litigation victory to add momentum for a common sense legislative bail reform package in Michigan

State
MI
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

Partners on the Clean Slate implementation campaign have sealed more than 1.2 million records and completely cleared records for over 200,000 people; millions more records will be cleared before the end of 2023

State
MI
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Alliance for Safety and Justice
legislation

Through budget advocacy ASJ, secured $4 million for four new Trauma Recovery Centers – one each in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek

State
MN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
For the People
legislation

After 2+ years of working County Attorneys and lawmakers, For The People helped pass another Prosecutor-Initiated Resentencing law. SF 2909 will enable prosecutors to safely bring people home from prison, and marks the 6th PIR law now in the US

State
MN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Sentencing Project
legislation

With local coalitions, helped pass The Restore the Vote Act, which will automatically expand voting rights to over 46,000 Minnesotans who are either on probation or parole

State
MN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

CSI partners passed the Minnesota Clean Slate Act in 2023.

State
MN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Drug Policy Alliance
legislation

Senate File 2934 included language mandating the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services to establish safe recovery sites and overdose prevention centers; included $14 million for start-up and capacity-building grants

State
MN
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Drug Policy Alliance
legislation

SF 2909 expanded access to harm reduction services, including drug checking services; bill will decriminalize giving away and possessing all drug paraphernalia

State
MO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
FAMM
legislation

Supported a bill which passed to eliminate the state’s crack-powder disparity, which was the largest disparity in the country

State
MO
win
Affirmative
Defensive
Implementation
Narrative
partners
Clean Slate Initiative
legislation

Missouri CSI partners helped pass a "stepping stone" bill that eliminates the fee for petition based expungement, expands the number of eligible records that can be cleared for people 16-25 who accumulate "course of conduct" records

State spotlightsStae

MS

Silhouette of Mississippi

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Mississippi has one of the worst problem statements when it comes to the criminal justice system. It is the second highest incarcerator in the country and has the third highest share of Black people in prison. It’s also a state where reform has been deeply underfunded, save for a few key groups working on the frontlines like FWD.us. While the idea of change seems daunting in Mississippi, there are some fierce local advocacy groups that have been working very hard, but mostly going it alone. They are ready to GO.

With funding from The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action, alongside access to tracking polls, coordinated state convenings, and collaboration with national advocacy organizations, our partners are holding the line on reform in Mississippi, and defeated not one but three mandatory minimum tough-on-crime policies that would have strained the already overcrowded prisons in the state. Congratulations to the MacArthur Justice Center, Empower Mississippi, the ACLU of Mississippi, FWD.us, and Right on Crime. Right now, good defense is the best offense.

KY

Silhouette of Kentucky

MS

Silhouette of Mississippi

WV

Silhouette of West Virginia

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At a time when progressive and conservative states are introducing legislation to increase fentanyl-related penalties, groups in three of our focus states bucked the trend and pushed through deeply impactful bills decriminalizing fentanyl test strips this year. With funding and support from The Just Trust for Education and The Just Trust for Action, these bills – moved by Dream.org and VOCAL-KY in Kentucky, End it For Good in Mississippi, and the ACLU of West Virginia, AFSC of West Virginia, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, REACH, and the Vera Institute in West Virginia – will save lives and avert drug-related criminalization. 

These incredible parallel efforts were won because of the dedication of directly impacted leaders, state and national advocates, and elected officials across the political spectrum all working together to solve something that is bigger than any one political party.

CA

Silhouette of California

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After a five yea