NEW YORK, NY – JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), a national advocacy organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in #halfby2030, has joined the Steering Committee of Opportunity Starts at Home, an unprecedented multi-sector campaign to advance federal policies that expand access to affordable housing for all people.
Founded on the idea that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution but furthest from the resources and power, JLUSA believes that people directly impacted by the criminal legal system must lead efforts to end its punitive and harmful effects. JLUSA’s directly impacted advocates work on efforts to end money bail, close jails, drastically reimagine and reduce the reach of probation and parole, end the use of electronic monitoring, and eradicate barriers to equity.
“To permanently dismantle the criminal legal system and end the harm that it has created – particularly in Black and brown communities – we need to reckon with decades of policy decisions, made across multiple systems, that got us here,” says DeAnna Hoskins, President & CEO of JLUSA. “We need to move beyond criminal justice reform and think about social justice reform. In doing that, lived experience and research make clear that access to affordable, safe housing has to be a priority for the advocates who are doing this work.”
Through a network of nearly 700 formerly incarcerated people who have graduated from JLUSA’s leadership development programs – Leading with Conviction and Emerging Leaders – JLUSA supports critical work that is happening across the United States. Joining the Opportunity Starts at Home Steering Committee offers an additional way in which JLUSA can focus not just on the myriad connections that exist between criminal justice and housing policy, but also on the legacy of disenfranchisement and discrimination that still defines these systems’ exclusionary and oppressive infrastructure.
“Through our #WORKINGfuture campaign,” says Hoskins, “we’re fighting to eliminate any and all barriers that hinder a person’s ability to return home from incarceration successfully. The criminal legal system and the housing system are deeply intertwined, each one entrenching harms created by the other. The only way to work across multiple systems is to work in partnership with people who have unique expertise in those systems and a shared vision for what systems transformation should look like.”
This marks a significant milestone in the growth of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, as well. JLUSA is the first criminal justice reform organization to join the Steering Committee, enabling the Committee to center groundbreaking criminal justice reform analysis into its current work. Mike Koprowski, National Director for the campaign, says that the criminal justice perspective – informed by people who’ve had to endure the criminal justice system – is sorely needed in housing policy.
“We are extremely excited to have JustLeadershipUSA join the Steering Committee,” said Koprowski. “JLUSA is one of the nation’s leading criminal justice reform advocacy organizations, and its experience will bring tremendous value to the campaign. Formerly incarcerated people face many barriers to stable and affordable housing. And in addition to being made exceptionally vulnerable to homelessness, We know that homelessness is criminalized in many jurisdictions, and consistent disinvestment in communities and the myriad barriers associated with a conviction only increase formerly incarcerated and convicted people’s susceptibility to homelessness. JLUSA’s work with this Committee will offer us new insights and strategies about what we can do to end this cruel cycle.”