Washington, D.C. Prison Reform Organizations

 

The Prisons and Justice Initiative plans to network with other existing organizations within the Washington, D.C. area, establishing partnerships on joint projects, co-sponsoring events, and providing a platform for local organizations working to support societal reentry for returning citizens to interact and collaborate.  The following list, which will be expanded over time, captures some of the organizations in our area:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Prison Project

The NPP is devoted to (a) dramatically reducing incarceration rates, (b) ending inhumane prison conditions, (c) increasing both transparency and public accountability, and (d) expanded the rights of incarcerated Americans.  It litigates and advocates on a national level.  In sum, the NPP fights to make the prison system constitutional.

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Council of State Governments’ Justice Center

For a decade, the Justice Center has provided states with data-driven practices that are meant to fruitfully and fairly address specific public safety issues.  It focuses on areas that are tightly related to the criminal justice system, such as mental health.  

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Free Minds Book Club

Free Minds holds weekly book clubs and writing workshops for minors who are charged as adults and incarcerated at the D.C. jail.  This organization hosts regular Write Nights near the Takoma Metro station and publishes its own literary journal (composed of poems by Free Minds members).

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Justice Policy Institute

JPI is a think-tank that seeks to improve the criminal justice system and render incarceration a last resort.  It offers training, policy briefs, reports, and strategic communications to other organizations in the field.

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Mayor's Office on Returning Citizens Affairs

This division of the Mayor's office provides information and support to formerly incarcerated D.C. residents.  Its outreach programs focus on employment, housing, health, and education.

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National Homecomers Academy

NHA is a community organization, headquartered in Northeast D.C.  Its founders, who were incarcerated for decades, wish to bring positive change to their communities.  Some of their programs, such as “Safe Passages,” focus on improving the lives of children.  By reaching out to youth, NHA’s members hope to help end generational cycles of incarceration.   

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The National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens

This local group, comprised entirely of volunteers, aims to connect returning citizens to vital resources (housing, jobs, mental health programs, etc.). Through its efforts, the Reentry Network for Returning Citizens rebuilds relationships and communities.

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Reunion

Reunion is an interfaith community with strong D.C. roots.  It aims to “dismantle mass incarceration through relationships and commitment.”  Reunion hosts several weekly spiritual support groups (Freedom Circles) in the Adams Morgan area as well as larger, bi-monthly events.

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The Sentencing Project

The Sentencing Project works for sentencing reform, promotes alternatives to incarceration, and addresses unjust practices within the criminal justice system.  Through advocacy, research, and publication, it seeks to change “the way Americans think about crime and punishment.”

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Vera Institute of Justice

The Vera Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the criminal justice system through “research and innovation.”  It works closely with government officials to achieve this aim.  Vera has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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Welcome Home Re-entry Program (Catholic Charities)

Welcome Home Re-entry is part of Catholic Charities.  Its coordinators match volunteers (mentors) with returned citizens (mentees) who have reached out for help amid their transition.  Mentors and mentees connect once a week and get together at least once a month.  The program organizes bi-monthly support group sessions for all participants..  Welcome Home Re-entry operates not only in D.C. but also in two Maryland counties (Montgomery and Prince George’s).

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