Equal Justice Initiative

Protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society

Grantee Cohort Fall 2017, Fall 2019

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) aims 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 people in American society. EJI represents marginalized people serving excessive sentences in the South; litigates to end the use of life without parole for minors; and educates the public about the link between slavery and mass incarceration through art.

Equal Justice Initiative is leveraging its grant to continue its efforts to educate Americans and leverage art to build a collective social consciousness and understanding of the racial harms of our criminal justice system. The organization has a three-pronged plan moving forward. EJI will continue its litigation and legal advocacy to reduce the prison population in Alabama by working to end the practice of life without parole sentences for children and to provide reentry services to its clients who are returning home. It is strengthening its communication and education efforts focused on the criminal justice system and the role of wealth and racial bias in shaping outcomes and leveraging two film projects –“Just Mercy” (based on EJI founder Bryan Stevenson’s award-winning book) and “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality” (HBO documentary film) to deepen the understanding of racially biased criminal justice laws and policies. With the release of two new film projects in 2019, EJI is preparing for a unique opportunity to drive millions of people to its work around these important issues. Support from the Fund will help Equal Justice Initiative expand its capacity to respond to the growing number of requests for speaking engagements and partnerships the organization is fielding and expand its development department to manage the influx of donations it expects as more people see the films and learn of the organization’s work.