We envision a world in which all people are acknowledged, valued, and supported to maximize their potential and share their innate gifts. We envision a world in which incarceration and prisons are not the first response to harm caused, but rather that harm is addressed in ways that affirm the humanity of both those responsible and those who have been harmed. We are all interconnected and interdependent, and we envision a world in our systems acknowledge this interdependence by affirming all our humanity.
CJI’s mission is to end Mass Criminalization and Mass Incarceration in the United States by building and strengthening the infrastructure of the grassroots criminal justice movement. We fund where the movement is developing, shifting and growing. CJI believes this movement should be led by those most impacted by the injustices of the current system, working in alliances across race, class, faith, gender, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status and age.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
We believe that the current criminal justice system was and is a means of control rooted in slavery and Jim Crow, and designed to create an exploited underclass. We believe that this system thrives off the criminalization of many peoples' daily lives and disproportionally affects black and brown people, poor people, transgendered and queer people, people with a history of mental, developmental or emotional disabilities, women and young people, Muslims and people of other U.S. religious minorities, and activists.
We believe that violence is largely caused by lack of access to resources and opportunity, and that the current system based on retribution and punishment hijacks resources that could provide essential services--housing, food, education, and health care--in favor of caging human beings, routine torture, and perpetual punishment that denies the humanity of those affected. We believe that a denial of any person's humanity injures the humanity of each of us, and all of us collectively. Hurt people hurt people. This must stop.
The only way to stop this madness is through building up the power of those affected so they can lead a movement that challenges the status quo and provides not just a vision, but a blueprint for a new social order. We believe that we need a critical mass of people, those most impacted along with like-minded lovers of justice, of every hue and class, who join in demands for change and the accountability of those responsible.
We believe that you are essential to that movement for change.
Funding for movements should be accountable to those movements. People directly impacted by injustice, especially formerly incarcerated people, should be leaders of their own liberation movement. We cannot move forward as a society without the transformation of both systems and selves. We value our funding model as a way to do both. Our work is based on the belief that each of us has more to bring to social justice work if we bring our whole selves. We each have more to offer than expertise, money, connections, or only one part of our identity. We believe that part of the violence of privilege and oppression in our society is that it cuts us off from our humanity and our ability to see others as their full human selves. We value the CJI process as one that affirms the wholeness, gifts and strengths of each of us in our uniqueness.