Justice Not Jails: Program History
Justice Not Jails (JNJ) is a program of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a California organization that organizes clergy and lay-people of faith to advocate for immigrant justice, sanctuary and ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization undergirded by a deep commitment to racial equity and religious equity. JNJ was founded as a multi-faith project by Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU) in 2012 as a faith response to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The project’s consistent goal is to dismantle mass incarceration and the mass criminalization of people of color by raising awareness and engagement of faith communities to seek criminal justice reform, here in the Los Angeles County, home to the world’s largest jail system. In 2016 Progressive Christians Uniting transferred JNJ to the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI).
What We Offer:
- A unique seven-part small group study curriculum on mass incarceration for use in Christian faith communities
- A network of Beyond Bars Congregations in Southern California–congregations committed to welcoming home formerly incarcerated persons and advocating for criminal justice reform.
- Opportunities for people of faith to advocate and lend their moral witness on issues such as bail reform and realigning law enforcement priorities to reinvest in effective re-entry and community programs
- Innovative and informative community events on civic and prophetic engagement, voter education, public service accountability, race relations, and social policy
Coordinator: Rev. Dr. Larry Foy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Dismantling Mass Criminalization Matters
Currently the U.S. Prison Population is 1.5 million people– representing the highest in the world. Cumulatively, in the U.S. there are 6.5 million people under adult corrections, (i.e., in jail, on parole, on probation, and under supervision). The number of females sentenced to more than 1 year in state or federal prison increased by 500% from 2015 to 2016. Approximately 13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 35% of jail inmates, and 37% of prison inmates. Hispanics account for 23 % of the prison population. The mass criminalization system reflects deeply-embedded institutionalized racism that permeates our society. The current system of mass incarceration and criminalization separates and divides families, puts people in dehumanizing conditions and fails to honor our common humanity. These acts in turn dismantle our communities and have both mental and physical long term effects on our environments.
California ranks 41st on per-student spending but 1st in spending per-prisoner. California spends $75, 260 to house a prisoner for one year while spending $10, 200 annually per K-12 student. There are 48,000 barriers nationwide that stand in the way of persons re-entering into society. In California alone, there are 4,000 barriers ranging from employment, housing, jury service, and voting which, collectively, prevent people with prior convictions from successfully re-entering into society and from reconnecting with their loved ones.
People of faith must show compassion and take action to help reform the criminal justice system and promote humane and effective alternatives to the current system. We remember that we share a common humanity, even with those who have made mistakes; that they too have families and are part of our communities and worthy of opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption. Our faith traditions call us to be the agents of healing, justice, reconciliation, renewal, and restoration.
Justice Not Jails is strengthened by the collaborative efforts of the following organizations: