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Washington Appleseed

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Citizen Participation, Civil Rights

Mission: Washington appleseed works to provide greater opportunities, education, and access to justice and fairness to disadvantaged or disenfranchised groups in the state of washington.

Programs: Wa appleseed completed important work on a self-help resource for people transitioning out of prison that focuses on providing important information about individuals' rights and obligations, how-to information so that individuals are empowered to act, and templates of letters, sample forms, and other valuable tools that can help make processes more transparent and outcomes more successful. We included a story collection component, made arrangements to publish the content on a standalone website, and had all of the content reviewed by a subject matter expert. Wa appleseed began to investigate whether a foster care to prison pipeline exist at the request of the concerned lifers organization (clo)- a group of men serving long sentences at monroe state penitentiary. Many members of the clo went through the foster care system, and over the years, they watched many of the young men they knew from group homes and their foster care communities end up in prison. They began to speculate that there was something unique about the experience of being "state-raised" that makes a young person more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system, and called on appleseed to help them dismantle that pipeline. Together with the clo's representative, carol estes, appleseed begun to build a coalition to examine the problem and design an advocacy strategy to change policy at a state level. Joining forces with the minority and justice commission, washington appleseed cohosted a symposium on the topic of jury diversity entitled, "a hollow promise or a hopeful future? " on may 24, 2017 at the temple of justice. Approximately 130 justice system partners attended and dozens more watched via the live tvw webcast. Professor nina chernoff (cuny school of law) gave the keynote address on why jury pools have failed to reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of their communities, why a representative jury is critical to justice, and nationwide efforts to increase jury diversity and their effectiveness. Judge steve rosen (king county superior court), dr. Matthew hickman (seattle university), and dr. Peter collins presented the preliminary results of the commission's statewide jury demographic survey. Chris gaddis, pierce county superior court administrator, also shared the results of a juror summons study. The program concluded with an account of the barriers to participation that a juror of color experienced and a call to action delivered by wa appleseed's executive director. Wa appleseed joined a jury diversity task force at the end of the year aimed at implementing recommendations made at the symposium. For the past five years, wa appleseed has been a driving force behind the research and legislation to establish the first reforms to school discipline practice in decades. Our groundbreaking research shone a light on the major issues of school discipline and resulted in a new law that was implemented in 2014. Since then, appleseed research has confirmed that the majority of disciplinary incidents are for non-violent student behavior and that these minor behavioral infractions result in significant days of school missed throughout the year. We also confirmed that disproportionality in disciplinary incidents is a persistent problem in our schools, not only for students of color, but also for students with special needs. Wa appleseed entered into a new data sharing agreement with the office of the superintendent of public instruction to obtain disaggregated, district level data that will allow us to assess whether the new law is working, take a closer look at the intersection between race, disability, and disciplinary incidents, and make recommendations for future reform.

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