Ranked Nonprofits: Local Criminal Justice 2011

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"More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their twenties, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day." The Sentencing Project
"More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their twenties, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day." The Sentencing Project

The Cause: Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Contrary to many people’s assumption, most of the people in prison have not committed serious crimes and the increase in incarceration rates are not a result of an increase in crime rates. Although many people believe that representing clients and fighting criminal justice falls on the public defenders office, nonprofit organizations play a vital role in the field of criminal justice because they are independent from the government compared to public defenders offices.

The Scope: Criminal justice experts were also asked to recommend nonprofits that are making an impact on a local/state level in the criminal justice research, because the work in the criminal justice field varied according to states' laws. Experts were asked to recommend nonprofits that work on solving issues across the entire time spectrum: before conviction, serving time, and re-entry. They were asked to consider different types of nonprofits, including legal defense organizations, service providers, research groups, advocacy groups, community organizing groups, membership groups, organizations that provide education and public outreach, technical assistance providers, and communications strategy organizations. Read more about the scope of the research here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/blog/?p=1214.


126 Local Criminal Justice experts recommended the following 21 outstanding nonprofits.
Meet the experts and read more about this research.


Top Nonprofit Mission
1 Medal-small-2011 Fortune Society (New York)
The Fortune Society’s mission is to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarcerations, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities.
2 Medal-small-2011 Southern Center for Human Rights (Georgia)
The Southern Center for Human Rights provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails, seeks through litigation and advocacy to improve legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, and advocates for criminal justice system reforms on behalf of those affected by the system in the Southern United States.
3 Medal-small-2011 Correctional Association of New York (The CA) (New York)
The Correctional Association of New York is an independent, non-profit organization founded by concerned citizens in 1844 and granted unique authority by the New York State Legislature to inspect prisons and to report its findings and recommendations to the legislature, the public and the press. Through monitoring, research, public education and policy recommendations, the Correctional Association strives to make the administration of justice in New York State more fair, efficient and humane.
3 Medal-small-2011 Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS) (New York)
The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS) is known nationally and internationally for its innovative, community-based, holistic public defense practice. Our dedicated staff is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation to residents of upper Manhattan.
4 Medal-small-2011 Legal Action Center (New York)
The Legal Action Center is the only non-profit law and policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas.
5 Medal-small-2011 Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) (Texas)
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) is committed to identifying and advancing real solutions to the problems facing Texas juvenile and criminal justice systems. We provide policy research and analysis, form effective partnerships, and educate key stakeholders to promote effective management, accountability, and best practices that increase public safety and preserve human and civil rights.
6 Medal-small-2011 Texas Defender Service (Texas)
Our mission is to establish a fair and just criminal justice system in Texas. 
7 Medal-small-2011 Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama (EJI) (Alabama)
A nonprofit organization providing legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.
7 Medal-small-2011 The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) (Louisiana)
To transform the juvenile justice system into one that builds on the strengths of young people, families and communities to ensure children are given the greatest opportunities to grow and thrive.
8 Medal-small-2011 Prison Law Office (California)
The Prison Law Office provides free legal services to California state prisoners, and occasionally to California state parolees. Our assistance is generally limited to cases regarding conditions of confinement. Further, the office does not typically assist or represent prisoners in lawsuits in which money damages are the primary objective. Instead, the office focuses on cases in which a change in conditions is sought. The office attempts to resolve such cases informally, if possible (by advocating to prison officials), or through formal litigation.
9 Medal-small-2011 Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) (Texas)
The Gulf Region Advocacy Center, or GRACE, is organized for the purpose of supporting and providing quality representation to indigent persons charged with capital crimes in the state courts of Texas and Louisiana. The Director and several of the Board members are veteran capital trial lawyers who participated in building the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center (LCAC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. The LCAC has developed an extremely successful method for investigating and presenting capital cases for indigent defendants. This method has been refined through dozens of capital cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. No such office or organization has ever existed in Harris County.  Though the Harris County District Attorney's Office has long maintained specialized units for capital trial and appellate work, never has there been a Harris County defender's office devoted exclusively to capital trials of the indigent where public interest lawyers can work together, share skills and materials, benefit from economies of scale, engage in systematic impact litigation and become specialists in indigent capital trials. GRACE is such an office.
10 Medal-small-2011 Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) (Colorado)
CCJRC's mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado.
10 Medal-small-2011 Families And Friends Of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) (Louisiana)
Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) is a statewide membership-based organization that fights for a better life for all of Louisiana’s youth, especially those involved in or targeted by the juvenile justice system.
11 Medal-small-2011 Safe Streets/ Strong Communities (Louisiana)
Safe Streets/Strong Communities is a community-based organization that campaigns for a new criminal justice system in New Orleans, one that creates safe streets and strong communities for everyone, regardless of race or economic status.
11 Medal-small-2011 Youth Justice Coalition (California)
The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is working to build a youth-led movement to challenge race, gender and class inequality in the Los Angeles County juvenile injustice system.  We are working to transform a system that has ensured the massive lock-up of people of color, widespread police violence, corruption and distrust between police and communities, violation of youth and communities’ Constitutional rights, and the build-up of the world’s largest prison system. We use direct action organizing, advocacy, political education and activist arts to mobilize youth, and their allies – both in the community and within government – to bring about change.
12 Medal-small-2011 Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (California)
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is a strategy and action center working for justice, opportunity and peace in urban America. Based in Oakland, California, we promote positive alternatives to violence and incarceration through our four cutting-edge campaigns.
13 Medal-small-2011 New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (New York)
New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (formerly New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that in 2008 expanded its mission after the effective abolition of capital punishment in New York. NYADP supports effective, rational, and humane approaches to the problem of violent crime in a post-death penalty abolition environment. NYADP collaborates with a wide variety of individuals and organizations (crime victims, members of law enforcement, family members of the incarcerated, mental health advocates, clergy, etc) to achieve these objectives.
14 Medal-small-2011 Juvenile Law Center (Pennsylvania)
Juvenile Law Center plays a national leadership role in shaping and using the law on behalf of children in the child welfare and justice systems to promote fairness, prevent harm, ensure access to appropriate services, and create opportunities for success.
15 Medal-small-2011 A Better Way Foundation (Connecticut)
A Better Way Foundation is a Connecticut non-profit organization that is dedicated to a sensible shift in drug policy from one of incarceration to substance abuse treatment and public health.
15 Medal-small-2011 Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) (Oregon)
Partnership for Safety and Justice works with the people most impacted by crime and the criminal justice system (survivors of crime, people convicted of crime, and the families of both) to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just.
16 Medal-small-2011 Georgia Justice Project (GJP) (Georgia)
Georgia Justice Project (GJP) breaks the cycle of poverty by defending the indigent criminally accused and, win or lose, standing with them as they rebuild their lives. With over 25 years of experience, GJP has developed a comprehensive suite of services, coupling holistic legal defense and social services with advocacy support, to address the barriers to economic stability faced by the criminally accused. For the duration of their history, Georgia Justice Project has been located in the heart of the Martin Luther King, Jr. district near downtown Atlanta.


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Through independent research, Philanthropedia has leveraged the wisdom of 3121 experts to provide reviews on 751 top nonprofits across 46 causes.