Vera Institute of Justice Announces Inaugural Round of "In Our Backyards" Community Grants
Date:  06-04-2019

Grants will fund 11 projects undertaken by 16 organizations in 7 states
The following press release was issued on June 4, 2019 by The Vera Institute of Justice:

NEW YORK, NY – Today, the Vera Institute of Justice announced its inaugural round of In Our Backyards Community Grants, which will support organizing, research, and public education around reducing mass incarceration. Vera’s grants will fund a total of 11 projects undertaken by 16 organizations in 7 states. These Community Grants represent the latest facet of Vera’s In Our Backyards initiative, which focuses on the high and rising use of incarceration in small cities and rural American communities. While major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have begun to reduce their use of prison and jail, small cities and rural counties across the country are deepening their reliance on mass incarceration.

In Our Backyards Campaign Director Jasmine Heiss said, “In the wake of the 2016 election, small cities and rural American counties are often painted with a broad brush—characterized as racially and ethnically homogenous, tough on crime, or politically disengaged. This cohort of grantees embodies the diversity, resilience and tenacity of small cities, suburbs, and rural communities. And their work paints a vivid picture of the issues and challenges confronting communities across our country, where a lack of economic opportunity, meagre community-based support for mental illness and substance use, and political interests have collided to deepen a reliance on jails and prisons and sustain deep racial disparities in incarceration. With In Our Backyards Community Grants, Vera is investing in community organizations who can help shift narratives and drive change outside of our nation’s biggest cities.”

This changing geography means that while campaigns like “Close the Jail ATL” in Atlanta and “Close the Creek” in Philadelphia have secured powerful commitments from elected leaders to close jails, hundreds of smaller communities are grappling with a quiet jail boom. The In Our Backyards Community Grants are meant to sustain and scale vital work already underway outside of major cities to end mass incarceration where it begins—at the local level. Continue reading >>>