Mission: To end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, challenge racial and economic injustice, and protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable Americans.
About the Organization: Founded in 1989 by public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson and based in Montgomery, Alabama, the Equal Justice Initiative provides legal representation to people who have been illegally and/or wrongfully convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons; challenges the death penalty and excessive punishment; and offers re-entry assistance to the formerly incarcerated. With the goal of changing the narrative about race in America, EJI works with communities marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment, advocates, and policy makers to address historical and ongoing racial injustice.
Current Programs: The organization produces research reports, case studies, discussion guides, educational materials, and films and provides educational tours and presentations in the areas of racial justice, which includes the evolution of slavery, the legacy of lynching, resistance to civil rights, and presumption of guilt for people of color; children in prison; mass incarceration, which includes the role of poverty in the criminal justice system, unreliable convictions, and prison conditions; and evidence that the death penalty does not improve public safety.
EJI has launched an ambitious national effort to create new spaces, historical markers, and memorials that address the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, which continues to affect people of color today. In 2018, EJI will open the Memorial to Peace and Justice, a national monument commemorating more than four thousand African-American victims of lynching, and From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, a museum that explores the history of slavery, racial terror, segregation, and mass incarceration.
Website: Visitors to the Equal Justice Initiative site can learn more about the history and impact of slavery, lynching, segregation, and mass incarceration by reading and/or downloading reports, watching videos, and following related news. A new project site, Lynching in America, features an interactive map, oral histories, a video, and a report about the legacy of racial terror between 1877 and 1950. Visitors also can sign up to receive updates, learn how to get involved, and/or make a donation.
Funding: The Equal Justice Initiative is funded by foundations, corporations, individuals, and government grants.