Vera Announces Funding for Organizations Transforming State and Local Justice Systems in Rural America
Date:  06-17-2020

The new grants will help shift resources to community-based movements in small cities and rural counties across the country
From the Vera Institute of Justice:


Jazmyn Strode, NEW YORK, NY -- Today, the Vera Institute of Justice’s In Our Backyards initiative announced the second round of grant funding to community-based and statewide organizations committed to reducing incarceration rates, resisting jail expansion, and eliminating racial and gender disparities in incarceration in small and rural communities.

In a moment of societal reckoning with the crisis that is the American justice system – between deadly COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails and rampant police brutality, disproportionately against Black people – many continue to view incarceration as a uniquely urban problem. However, smaller cities and rural communities, typically overlooked in national conversations about justice reform and movement work, now have the highest rates of incarceration, continued growth in pretrial detention, and the most severe gender and racial disparities. As the world watches organizers in places like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta build momentum for large-scale transformation of local justice systems, community organizers and local advocates in smaller places are also driving efforts for meaningful decarceration and racial justice.

“Vera and In Our Backyards know that we won’t end mass incarceration and its footprint without a movement that spans urban and rural communities,” said Jasmine Heiss, Campaign Director for Vera’s In Our Backyards. “I’m proud that Vera is supporting a community of organizers, advocates, and researchers that embody the diversity, resiliency, and tenacity of small cities and rural communities. We are committed to supporting and collaborating with those showing up on the frontlines of justice at a time when their work is urgently needed.” The second round of grantees include:

  • Deep Center & Southern Center for Human Rights - Chatham County, GA

  • Workers Center for Racial Justice - St. Clair County, IL

  • Michigan United - Kalamazoo County, MI
  • One Voice & the NAACP of Mississippi - Adams County, Amite County, Franklin County, & Wilkinson County, MS

  • Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky - Bell, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Madison, Perry, Pike, & Whitley County, KY

  • Kentucky Center for Economic Policy - Barren, Boyle, Leslie, Rowan, Madison County, KY

  • Justice Matters - Douglas County, KS

  • Down Home - Alamance County, NC

  • Emancipate NC, Community Alliance for Public Education, & Wilson County NAACP - Nash & Wilson County, NC

  • Public Policy and Education Fund, Truth Pharm, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier - Broome County, NY

  • Pennsylvania Prison Society - Adams, Blair, Allegheny, Center & Indiana County, PA

  • Free Hearts, No Exceptions, Mercy Junction Peace & Justice Center - Statewide, TN

  • Grassroots Leadership - Williamson & Bastrop County, TX

  • Jail Project of Texas - Collin, Grayson, & Denton County, TX

  • Mano Amiga - Hays County, TX

  • West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy - Statewide, WV

    The In Our Backyards community grants are supporting local and statewide organizations launching broad public education campaigns and working with community members, legislators and other stakeholders to tackle a range of policy and practice problems, such as wealth-based detention, racial disparities in enforcement, and the true costs of incarceration for taxpayers and communities. To date, Vera’s In Our Backyards initiative has committed more than half a million dollars in funding through the Community Grants program.

    You can find a list of the other recipients and previously supported projects here.