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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Equal Justice USA Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

Mission: Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national organization working to transform the justice system to one that heals and restores lives. Our work includes ending the death penalty, strengthening programs that help crime survivors address trauma and rebuild their lives, and promoting trauma-informed responses to violence that can save lives and help heal communities.

Results: We are best known for 20 years of advocacy on the death penalty, during which we ended the death penalty in six states together with our state partners, organizing around some of the most egregious acts of violence addressed by our justice system. That work exposed us to the extensive trauma experienced across the system and shaped our analysis about the futility of asking a traumatizing justice system to carry out such essential functions as healing and community safety in the aftermath of violence. We worked with survivors who taught us about the unique trauma of losing a loved one to homicide, the extreme lack of services, and the ways that the justice system failed them. We worked with former wardens who carried out executions and taught us about the secondary trauma to corrections officers who are asked to do impossible jobs under the harshest conditions. Most importantly, capital cases uniquely must include a full life history of the defendant, so people on death row provide incredible case studies of the background of those who commit the most heinous crimes. Unsurprisingly, so many of them have a mountain of unimaginable, unaddressed trauma in their pasts. The common thread of trauma among all of these actors – those inside the system and those impacted by it on both sides – presented a roadmap for future solutions in the justice system. In 2008 we began the process of expanding our vision and programs to make those solutions a reality.

Geographic areas served: National

Programs: We run three programs: (1) a campaign to end the death penalty, for which we are best known (2) a project to bring racial equity to victim services by helping groups that support crime survivors in communities of color to gain access to new resources and expand their reach, and (3) a Trauma Advocacy Initiative, which promotes a transformed vision for a justice system that is both trauma-responsive and restorative through local collaborative work with public health and criminal justice systems as well as national communications on a public health approach to the justice system.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

jalden

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked as the policy director of a state policy non profit and worked closely with EJUSA on a large project. They helped our efforts in our state for death penalty repeal and criminal justice reform immensely. Their expertise and strategic advice helped us to be very successful in our efforts. They are reliable, knowledgeable, competent, friendly, and truly care deeply about the work they do. They were an invaluable partner to us and the key to helping our state coalition work toward the abolition of the death penalty.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This was my first time engaging this organization. As a community activist in Jacksonville, Florida I found them to be through, thoughtful, consistent, informative, factual, and professional. My work with Mrs. Christine Henderson was beyond our organization expectations. She appeared untiring, unrelenting about truth, and determined to seek and get professional results for EJUSA and those she worked with. A+

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EJUSA has provided game-changing leadership for the movement to end the death penalty. They are true visionaries, as well as amazing partners and collaborators. I rely heavily on their insight, wisdom and experience and their deep connections to a wide network of constituencies, especially conservatives, communities of color, and Evangelicals. Every conversation I have with an EJUSA staffer leaves me enriched, inspired and forever grateful.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EJUSA is an amazing, professional organization that is effecting substantive change in our country. The organization's emphasis on building diverse coalitions and engaging unlikely allies makes them a model for all advocacy organizations.

3 Effie C.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EJUSA has the energy, the expertise, the experience and the knowledge to help our country end the death penalty. Working for repeal in Nebraska, I was amazed by their commitment and their willingness to help our state on every level. EJUSA was with us all the way, encouraging us and contributing great ideas to the Nebraska organization's own hard work and strong commitment. They never gave in to discouragement, but always moved forward with a positive attitude to the next step. They're a personable and friendly bunch as well.

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EJUSA continues to be the most responsive, strategic, and effective national criminal justice reform group I know. Whatever our needs, they are always there to fulfill them. Their advocacy for a justice system that addresses the needs of everyone impacted by crime is incredibly important, and very timely for our state. I look forward to our continued partnership.

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Equal Justice USA plays a pivotal role in supporting the work of groups in the Death Penalty Moratorium and Abolition movement. Through candid guidance, dedicated energy, and enthusiastic commitment, members of the Equal Justice team make it possible for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty to advocate for an end to our state's costly, arbitrary and bloated capital punishment bureaucracy. Stemming the tide of executions demands no less. Equal Justice USA stands at the ready and we are thankful for it.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EJUSA has been tremendously helpful throughout Nebraska's winning campaign to repeal the death penalty. While NADP had the enthusiasm to get it done, we didn't necesarily have all the resources. As a brand new organizer, the tools, materials and expertise from EJUSA helped me delve into outreach to critical conservative groups and leaders.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with Equal Justice USA has been an absolute pleasure. I was new to the field of organizing and campaign strategizing, but EJUSA took me under their wing and guided all of my efforts. I grew both professionally and personally because of their direction. Any time I had a question or needed guidance, the staff at EJUSA was available and willing to point me in the right path. I've learned so much from them that I can take with me at my next job and beyond.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first came into contact with Equal Justice USA when I was working with Troy Davis's family to write their book and tell their story. (Troy was executed in Georgia in 2011 despite a strong case of innocence.) Over the last two years, I have partnered very closely with EJUSA on multiple aspects of promoting the book and its message, and on multiple aspects of death penalty education and repeal. EJUSA has been, without exception, trustworthy, effective, professional, and, frankly--inspiring. This is true of every staff member that I have worked with, individually. And it is true of my experience with the organization as a whole. EJUSA is comprised of great people doing amazing work. I really can't speak highly enough of them.

2 snachodog

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Steve Dogiakos. I am the director of Montana Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and staff for the Montana Abolition Coalition. Through my work, I have collaborated with a handful of EJUSA staff members and I can't sing their praises highly enough. Whether it's strategic campaign planning or just picking up the phone to get advice, the EJUSA staff is amazing!

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My Name is Kirk Bloodsworth I am the first Death row inmate to be exonerated from post-conviction DNA testing. EJUSA is far and beyond your average non profit. I have worked with them for many years and find them to be Professional, smart and on point. From the Executive Director to the last employee. Honest bunch of folks that get the job done. In one word I say they are stellar!! Five stars.

Kirk Bloodsworth Consultant/public speaker

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a staff person of a state organization working to end the death penalty, I always found EJUSA to be an incredibly effective and helpful organization. They consistently provided affordable resources that truly made a difference in our day to day work. EJUSA seemed to always be leading the way in developing important strategies to increase the state organizations' ability to reach new audiences, and then providing us access to the tools to make it happen. I owe a great deal of my success in this work to the tools and training provided to me by EJUSA over the last 6-8 years.

EJUSA and their staff are respectful and encouraging - always building bridges and enlarging the tent. They are young, passionate, strategic and effective.

Christina39

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What an amazing group of folks. EJUSA is staffed with hard-working, dedicated, and passionate people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty doing the work that gets things done. Hands-down experts in their field, I would recommend this group to ANYONE working interested in making America a more just place.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm extremely impressed with EJUSA's organizing around ending the death penalty nationwide. As an Illinois abolition activist, I supported both local and national organizations (and helped start a local one with a group of homicide victim family members, religious, and law-reform-minded attorneys); the national outlook and continuity of EJUSA were, I believe, key to our ultimate success in repealing our state's death penalty law, helping with information as to what was working in other states and with direct assistance within Illinois.

Jonathan13

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

After years as part of a smaller not for profit EJUSA entered its own in 2008 and faced a world where the death penalty ruled supreme as a political sanction for crime. Since 2008 under the able leadership of Shari Silberstein it has been the moving force to abolish capital punishment in 5 states in the last 5 years. Its dedicated and talented staff works with grassroots activists across the country providing necessary resources to build a movement for state by state abolition of capital punishment. From political messaging to folding envelopes, from strategizing about press conferences and meeting governors to targeting political players or writing grants EJUSA staff embeds itself locally and on long term basis to help groups grow, learn and win. Now EJUSA is expanding its work to bridge the ever widening chasm between offender and victim advocacy by creating a new program aimed directly at serving the genuine but unmet needs of crime survivors and their families building a movement addressing the needs of inner city crime victims’ of color. All said EJUSA is a great non profit!