Grantee partner Essie Justice Group and its founder Gina Clayton-Johnson were featured on Legal Rebels, a blog run by the American Bar Association Journal, for the nonprofit organization’s work empowering women with incarcerated loved ones to take on the injustices created by mass incarceration.
Founded in 2014, Essie Justice Group hosts a nine-week program called Healing to Advocacy for women with incarcerated loved ones. Women who are nominated for the program participate in sessions focused on breaking isolation, increasing wellness and facilitating personal and community transformation. The organization also organizes around ending money bail and is a part of Black Mamas Day Bail Out, an annual Mother’s Day event that provides Black mothers with funds to pay bail. So far, 150 women have completed Healing to Advocacy, and two weeks before Mother’s Day this year, Essie Justice Group received 300 nominations for its next session.
“I realized that there’s a big problem with mass incarceration that we’re not seeing as much research on—that 1 in 4 women have a family member in prison,” Clayton-Johnson says, citing the group’s 2018 report, Because She’s Powerful: The Political Isolation and Resistance of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones.
Essie Justice Group recently expanded to have offices in both Los Angeles and Oakland, California. The organization is a Fall 2018 recipient of the Art for Justice Fund’s Keeping People Out of Jail and Prison grant.