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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 by promoting trauma-informed responses to violence. We work at the intersection of criminal justice, public health, and racial justice to elevate healing over retribution, advance racial equity, and meet the needs of survivors.

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.

Target demographics: transform the justice system by promoting trauma-informed responses to violence.

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

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

As both a donor and former employee, I am deeply familiar with EJUSA’s work, and have nothing but praise for the organization. EJUSA is doing critically important work to change how we approach and think about criminal justice in the United States. It has a long track record of success, which includes playing a key role in ending the death penalty in seven states in the past decade. Unique to EJUSA is its commitment to and skill in building bridges between different groups and across ideological divides, which is so important today. In sum, EJUSA is a terrific organization that deserves your support!

3 Christopher E.


Rating: 5

I have volunteered for EJUSA in several capacities. As well, I'm a monthly donor. As a systems thinker and design strategist, I believe that intersectional approaches to taking on wicked problems (and our justice system is definitely that) is the best approach. In fact, I would argue the only successful approach to true paradigm shift. EJUSA is leading the way on that paradigm shift. Rethinking all of the actors in the system and what is best for each in order to achieve the change we seek. This is the group and approach to watch. Like they did with the anti-death penalty activism, this will be the group that in 25 years we say: they were ahead of their time. And they do all of this by building coalitions, caring for all their stakeholders, and leading with compassion. You will not be disappointed in supporting EJUSA. They are lean and effective and highly qualified.

Previous Stories


Rating: 5

Here's the thing, there are a lot of organizations that have a higher profile in the justice reform and anti-death penalty community, but there's one org that all those with higher profiles turn to get things done.

And that is EJUSA.

There the most influential organization you've never heard of. They have been apart of the national conversation on ending the death penalty for over 25 years, with actual state-level wins that have instigated the progression toward a complete nationwide end to the unconscionable practice. Now they are at the forefront a strategy for tackling community justice reform, beginning with strong advocacy for victims and bringing them together into restorative justice reforms. EJUSA is seeing a national movement toward ending the cycle of violence and they will lead that conversation, that organizing on the ground, in the same way they have done for the death penalty.

If you want to give to an organization that does so much with their dollars, EJUSA is your place.

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Hilary C.


Rating: 5

I can't say enough about EJUSA!!! They were INSTRUMENTAL in helping us achieve abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut. They helped us make the impossible not only possible, but a reality! Hands-on training, expert knowledge of the legislative landscape and the issues involved, passionate and wonderful staff and volunteers helping us every step of the way.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I am both a supporter and a happy beneficiary of EJUSA. They were an absolutely instrumental part of our campaign to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut. They did so much work for us behind the scenes, but their most valuable and important contribution was the outstanding professional work they did in empowering and training us to develop a winning strategy. They understand the unique situation each state (and each region of each state) has, and they are so skilled at helping you develop a plan that suits your needs, your resources, and your strengths. I have worked on many non-profit boards, been a staff member at many non- profits, and I have seen time and time again what doesn't work -- EJUSA is a great example of what DOES work: knowledge, passion, and vision, vision, vision! They are a rarity among non-profits -- not in it for the attention, not in it just to perpetuate their existence, but in it for RESULTS. EJUSA is the one non-profit that I will ALWAYS contribute to, as long they're around!



Rating: 5

I have been involved with EJUSA as a supporter since 2005 when it was a project of the Quixote Center in Washington, DC and supported the organisation when it became independent and moved to New York, NY a few years later. I have been involved with the anti-death penalty movement my whole life and was blessed to work in the same building as them and then to watch their progress unfold into a leader of the national campaign end the death penalty in two states and bring California (my home state) closer to ending the death penalty in 2012. Only EJUSA has the footing and development capacity to maintain the war footing necessary to end the California death penalty and the federal death penalty in particular.