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How we’re supporting the most vulnerable among us

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it, but its impact on our criminal justice system could be catastrophic. The crisis has exposed the deplorable conditions in which 2.3 million people live every day—an existence now more perilous and shut off from public scrutiny than ever before. These are environments where social isolation is virtually impossible, where basic sanitation is lacking, where solitary confinement—a punishing environment even for someone who’s physically healthy—is the default form of quarantine for the sick, and where health care is provided by a separate, second-class system disconnected from doctors, nurses, hospitals, and public health officials who serve the community at large. 

Impact Justice is championing and working alongside ally organizations and officials who are taking steps to stem the flow of people into jail and prison and quickly release as many incarcerated people as possible in what is a race against time. We stand in solidarity with those who are working tirelessly to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us.

In addition to research, Impact Justice operates innovative direct service programs that work with people impacted by incarceration to provide housing and jobs, and helps community-based organizations that offer restorative justice diversion to keep youth out of the justice system. We’re committed to our participants and our partners during this crisis. Here are just a few ways we’ve adapted our programming to ensure the health and safety of the people we serve:

  • In lieu of on-site work, our California Justice Leaders cohort members are temporarily embarking on a series of online classes and discussions to help mentor their peers as they begin their reentry journey. We are working with members to make sure they have the proper technology and equipment necessary to complete these job responsibilities virtually.
  • People housed in host homes through our Homecoming Project are safely receiving hand-delivered care packages of food, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. We’re also exploring ways to connect current and past participants using video conferencing to reduce social isolation and increase emotional support.
  • Our Restorative Justice Diversion team is exploring with our community-based organization partners how to make virtual restorative conferences with youth and community members possible.
  • Staff across all of our programs are conducting regular support check-ins via video conference, phone, text, and email with partners to learn how we can best support one another in this time of crisis. 

How you can help right now

Impact Justice has set up a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help the people we serve with emergency relief and support. Funds are flexible and may be used for things like housing, food, cleaning supplies, technology associated with virtual work, medical/mental healthcare, or to mitigate the loss of income in the short-term. Please consider making a gift in any amount. 

We’ll provide updates in the coming weeks on our work and other information we hope you’ll find both useful and heartening. In the meantime, stay healthy, safe, and connected—to one another and the vision of justice we all share.

We’ll provide updates in the coming weeks on our work and other information we hope you’ll find both useful and heartening. In the meantime, stay healthy, safe, and connected—to one another and the vision of justice we all share.

Photographer: Bob Chamberlain
Source: Getty Images

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