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How you can support prison reform

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Short of donating money to random prisoners' commissary accounts, what can you do to support prison and justice reform this giving season? Here are linked descriptions to some of the best prison reform and inmate advocacy groups currently active.

American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is the nation’s most renowned civil liberties advocate, and its causes include that of justice and prison reform. Specifically, its “National Prison Project is dedicated to ensuring that our nation’s prisons, jails, and other places of detention comply with the Constitution, domestic law, and international human rights principles, and to ending the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.” Their goals include increasing the system’s transparency, improving inmate conditions, and reducing the total inmate population.

Correction Association. Founded in 1844, the Correction Association is a non-profit that advocates for a more human criminal justice system. Since 1846 it has had a unique mandate from the New York State Legislature to inspect the state’s prison facilities. Its core issues include addressing the abuse of solitary confinement, monitoring youth justice, advocating to avoid the sentencing of minors as adults, studying the state of healthcare in prisons and jails, and advocating for women involved in the system.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums. FAMM advocates for sentencing reform in hopes of reducing the taxpayer burden of housing prisoners and diverting money from supporting incarceration costs to preventive programs.

The Innocence Project. A non-profit legal clinic, the Innocence Project is perhaps one of the best-known prison reform and advocacy. The Innocence Project specializes in using DNA evidence to procure the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners.

The Nation Inside. The Nation Inside is a collection of prison reform campaigns which cover an array of issues from rights for deaf prisoners to birthing behind bars to elderly prisoner rights to reducing incarceration rates.

Women’s Prison Association. The WPA is involved in policy, advocacy, and research to support women with a history of involvement in the criminal justice system.WPA is a service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories realize new possibilities for themselves and their families. The association helps women with housing and employment and seeks to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals while specifically supporting criminal justice-involved females.

If financial donations are just not within your means, most of the aforementioned groups have volunteer opportunities available.

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