The Criminal Justice Initiative 2011 Grants

Border Action Network (BAN)

Tucson, AZ ($8,000) 

Arizona’s political climate includes legalized racial profiling (SB1070), increased workplace raids, a sheriff charged with human rights abuses, and a senator’s proposal to change the 14th Amendment to end automatic citizenship to U.S.-born children.  Meanwhile, comprehensive immigration reform remains a dream deferred. In the thick of it, Border Action Network (BAN) organized 30,000 postcards, 50,000 emails and 8 rallies that defeated the original version of SB1070. This prompted the late-night, back-door maneuver that enabled the revised version’s narrow passage. BAN and allies then coordinated a statewide coalition, One Arizona, with a five-step plan to defeat SB1070. BAN also launched a Racial Profiling Documentation Campaign with a human rights hotline and a streamlined online reporting form to chronicle the law’s devastation. Over 500 people at-tended BAN house meetings with trainings ranging from the Bill of Rights to a review of traffic rules, since traffic stops are now becoming the source of most police referrals to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). BAN is on a mission and CJI is help-ing to support it.

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) 

San Francisco, CA ($8,000)

California holds the largest incarcerated population of women in the world.  Amongst them are survivors of domestic violence; juveniles serving life sentences, and women chained to their beds during labor.  The state prison system has been in receivership for years, since the federal government determined in-humane conditions of confinement. CCWP’s membership, which includes community organizers, supporters of women, and a base of 175 women in prison, on parole or on probation, is working to change that.  Ongoing support from CJI will help promote the delivery of improved reproductive health services, including an end to the inhumane practice of shackling during labor; encourage compassionate release for elderly long-timers; maintain a prison newsletter, The Fire Inside, and a prison radio program, Without Walls; and oppose prison expansion through participation in the statewide CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget) coalition.

Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) 

Chicago, IL ($8,000)

CLAIM provides legal and educational services to maintain the bond between imprisoned mothers and their children. CLAIM advocates for policies and programs that benefit families of imprisoned mothers and reduce incarceration of women and girls. Through their 21 public events speaking out for policy change and use of other media tactics, CLAIM won 1) an order from the Cook County Sheriff to stop shackling women in their hospital beds during labor; 2) improved conditions for children’s visits to their mothers in prison; 3) increased visiting hours enabling visitation after school and; 4) resources for transportation that will lessen the likelihood of parental rights termination. A CJI grant will help this work to continue and support CLAIM’s participation in both a statewide and a national campaign against shackling.

Desis Rising up and Moving! (DRUM!)     

Jackson Heights, NY ($8,000)

South Asian and Muslim immigrant families in New York City face racial profiling, heightened immigration enforcement including detention and deportation, and school-to-prison pipe-line policies that criminalize students.  Many in the community “disappeared” after raids and Special Registration between 2001 and 2004.  DRUM's membership consists of over 900 Desis people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Guyana and Trinidad who consist of low wage, immigrant workers and youth. Having won an agreement with the FBI against racial profiling, DRUM is now pushing for law enforcement accountability. A CJI grant will help DRUM youth with leadership development to organize for Immigrant Safe Zones in schools, win passage of the School Safety Act that will hold school safety agents accountable for misconduct and require the Department of Education to report quarterly public data on suspensions and arrests. The Dignity in Schools campaign will shift school culture away from zero tolerance policies linked to hyper-incarceration of children of color to Positive Behavior and Intervention Support as an alternative to policing in the schools.

Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement (EPOCA)    

Worcester, MA ($8,000)

One of the hardest challenges for a person who has been incar-erated is finding employment after his or her release. In nearly every U.S. state, a Criminal Offender Record of Information (CORI) makes it impossible for qualified ex-prisoners to obtain employment, education, or housing.  EPOCA celebrated a major victory when the city of Worcester voted to employ fair practices when using CORI.  EPOCA will build on its achievements by working with the Human Rights Commission to ensure that businesses in Worcester comply with the Fair CORI Practices ordinance. EPOCA’s alliances with state and national allies will help duplicate their successes to implement similar policies throughout the country.  This CJI grant will also support EPOCA’s new initiative that marries eco-friendly businesses with employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. For example, Empower Energy Co-op, a worker-owned cooper-tive employing five EPOCA members, produces bio-diesel fuel from waste vegetable oil.

Escuelas Si, Pintas No! (Schools Yes, Prisons No!) (ESPINO!) 

Stockton, CA ($8,000)

People who are civically engaged are less likely to be court-involved or to return to prison.  ESPINO is a new youth-based initiative that marries cultural pride with a strong community engagement.  It develops emerging leaders through targeted training in community and youth organizing, policy analysis and social justice campaigns. Low-income, young people of color in the Central Valley are facing disproportionate rates of unemployment, incarceration, crime, violence, gang activity, teenage pregnancy, school attrition, and poverty.  This CJI seed grant will support ESPINO’s Youth Empowerment Centers (YECs) that promote healthy outcomes for young people through preven-tion/intervention/re-entry services, advocacy focused on diagnosing community problems and organizing for the resources required to improve them.

Families for Freedom (FFF)    

Brooklyn, NY ($8,000)    

Already confronted with an alarming increase in the rate of deportations from the U.S., New York’s immigrant populations now face expedited implementation of the Secure Communities Program, which mandates reporting arrested non-citizens to the FBI. The result is an increased likelihood that ALL non-citizens in jail will face deportation proceedings, regardless of the outcome of their criminal case. Families for Freedom is a multi-ethnic network of immigrant families who fight deportation and challenge policies that criminalize immigration. With their allies, they work to enable all residents to have the OPPORTUNITY to live lawfully in the United States. Through their Speakers Bureau and strategic alliances - Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH), New Agenda for Broad Immigration Reform (NABIR) and the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) - FFF maximizes the voices of those calling for reasoned policies.  FFF programs like Deportation 101, Immigrant Defense Project and the National Immigrant Project develop and train leaders who then train targeted communities in their rights.  Additional pro-grams inform consulates and non-citizens detained at Riker's Island about defensive strategies for relief.  Recent Supreme Court cases have allowed for appeals in deportation cases, so FFF encourages members to keep testifying for policy changes. 

Homies Unidos

Los Angeles, CA ($8,000)    

Homies Unidos provides tangible alternatives for young people who choose to leave the lifestyle of violence behind them. Their mission is to defend the inherent right of youth, families and their communities to pursue their dreams and achieve their full potential in a just, safe and healthy society. To achieve this, Homies Unidos works to end gang violence and state violence.  They also promote peace by empowering youth and their families to become advocates for social justice rather than agents of self-destruction. Their cornerstone programs, Epiphany Project and Libertad con Dignidad (Liberty with Dignity) are literally saving lives. Epiphany Project address issues concerning coping skills, leadership skills, domestic violence, gangs, drugs, alcohol prevention, and cultural awareness for at-risk or gang-involved youth and their families. Upon completion of the workshops graduates are able to get Tattoo Removal treatments free or at a reduced price. Libertad con Dignidad brings together graduates of the Epiphany Project, their families, individuals and leaders of the community to advocate for change on local, national, and international levels concerning the intersection of criminal justice and immigration policies.  A CJI grant will sup-port these critical and effective programs.

Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) 

San Francisco, CA ($8,000)

Transgendered children are more likely to be harassed in school, kicked out by their parents, and abused while in foster care.  Consequently, they are more liable to drop out of school and end up on the streets where pimps, "johns" and police officers often exploit them.  They face a higher rate of arrest and are routinely subjected to unspeakable horrors in prison. TGIJP’s mission is to challenge the discrimination, unjust incarceration, and the many human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant and intersex people.  TGIJP shows up at hearings where trans people have been attacked, fights for protection for trans people in prison and works for alternatives to incarceration. CJI, one of TGIJP’s first funders, continues to support the ongoing work for full human rights to transgender, gender variant, and intersex people.

Women on the Rise Telling Herstory (WORTH)    

Bronx, NY ($8,000)

Incarcerated women face poor access to treatment for serious medical conditions, termination of parental rights while they are in prison, and an alarming rate of abuse from guards and other prison personnel. WORTH, an organization of presently and formerly incarcerated women, has successfully taken on some of the injustices they personally suffer(ed) in prison and after their release. With leadership training and instruction in public speaking, strategic planning and organizing, women of WORTH have won measures that were under the radar or con-sidered sure losers by advocacy groups.  In New York State, WORTH has secured the following legislation: mandated provision of care to incarcerated women, extended parental rights for parents in or in mandated treatment programs, and an Anti-Shackling Law.  A new CJI grant will enable WORTH to monitor prisons to ensure compliance with the legislation they’ve won; play a leading role in the national campaign against shackling, and allow WORTH to help prepare women for release in a new prison program they were invited to provide.