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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

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

EJUSA is a great organization that really connects with other NGOs on the ground level. They act as a cheerleader and behind-the-scenes workforce and have helped many states repeal their death penalty legislation over the years. They are starting to move onto two additional projects: victim advocacy and addressing violence and trauma as a public health issue. I can't think of a better organization to lead the charge on these new initiatives.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I work full-time for another criminal justice non-profit, and EJUSA is one of the more impressive criminal justice reform organizations I've been exposed to. Their dogged, successful anti-death penalty advocacy is truly a marvel of clever strategy and organization, and they should be commended for pivoting slightly to incorporate new, related work on victims in the CJ system. Because I'm so impressed by what they do, I serve on the Associate Board to help get the word out and learn more myself. It's a great group of people doing interesting and meaningful work.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

EJUSA is a truly special organization -- everyone involved at all levels are truly dedicated and passionate about their mission. It is inspiring and a pleasure to be a part of.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As the former executive director of MD Citizens Against State Executions (former because we won!), I can unequivocally say that repeal of the death penalty in Maryland just would NOT have happened without EJUSA!

Board Member

Rating: 4

The staff of EJ USA are some of the most committed professionals that I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Justice is not blind. The current system uses resources to execute people. While victim supports and prevention initiates remain under-funded. EJUSA is working at the grassroots level to change this!!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been on the Board of EJUSA for almost three years and am continually impressed with the strategic vision and dedication of the staff. I'm excited to be a part of an organization that has been so intricately involved in changing minds of Americans about the death penalty specifically and the criminal justice system in particular.

Board Member

Rating: 5

EJUSA is a goal oriented not-for-profit that has a unique way of approaching criminal justice reform. The organization takes a bottom up approach, involving all sectors of the criminal justice system, including victims. The organization's members are hands on people, willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to get the job done. EJUSA is composed of committed individuals. They work smart and hard, and most importantly, have succeeded to changing the debate concerning criminal justice and repealing the death penalty in five states within five years. I am proud and honored to serve with EJUSA.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm extremely impressed with everything about EJUSA - from the top to the bottom. They are a well run, extremely talented group of people. They also have one of the healthiest cultures an organization can have. I am very impressed with the way this talented group exeeds expectations again and again. I am truly proud to be affiliated with EJUSA

Board Member

Rating: 5

EJUSA and its amazing staff are not just winning legislative victories – EJUSA is changing lives. Within the criminal justice reform arena EJUSA is asking the tough questions, filling in the holes, getting the job done! And in doing so EJUSA has trained teams of organizers, given voice to unheard families and moved important legislation. This non profit reaches one success after another! I am proud to have received their services, worked on the team and now serve on the board.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Over the years I have served on a number of local and national boards, and advised numerous organizations working on a wide range of issues. Equal Justice USA is among the most focused and effective organizations with which I have ever been involved. I agreed to serve as a founding board member because the team is top notch, the mission focused, and the work focused on the mission. The organization always asks "how does this help us achieve our goals?" before undertaking anything from buying supplies to engaging in major initiatives. They know what they want to achieve and they are achieving it.