JustLeadershipUSA is committed to elevating, educating, and empowering directly impacted people. Here is information on our previous local campaigns, which all adhered to our values and mission to decarcerate the United States:

Decarceration Strategies

Decarceration is not just about closing brick and mortar jails and prisons – it’s about overhauling and dismantling unjust laws and systems so that people can come home and thrive. It’s about putting forth visions and demands for justice reinvestment that repair the harm and disinvestment in our communities.

Our campaigns challenge:

JustLeadershipUSA is in coalition with leaders in local communities for jail closure campaigns in Los Angeles, New York, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, denouncing the pervasive inhumane conditions and cultures of violence fueled by correctional departments and guards that are in jails and prisons.

Probation and parole drive further incarceration. Rather, we must focus our efforts on raising awareness to the harms of community supervision and demand change that focuses on community-based initiatives and resources. #CLOSEmsdf demands in Milwaukee and #CLOSEthecreek demands in Philadelphia address these issues.

BOLD Overhaul and REAL pretrial reform mean people will have every opportunity for a fair shot at justice and freedom. States must prioritize justice-involved people being home with their loved ones and community in order to guarantee a fair trial and due process. JLUSA’s #FREEnewyork Campaign demands bold speedy trial, bail and discovery law reform and expanded funding for legal representation in order to end mass incarceration in New York State, close the Rikers Island jails, and get to #halfby2030.

JustLeadershipUSA is in coalition with people and organizations working to legalize and decriminalize drug use and implement pre-arrest diversions, ending broken windows policing and manufactured crimes that target Black and brown communities.

For the 70-plus million people living with a criminal record, our punishment is not limited to the court’s sentence. A criminal record can produce a lifetime of barriers and exclusions which are often called “collateral consequences.” Together with partners in Michigan, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, JLUSA’s #WORKINGfuture campaign is working to do public education and dismantle the systemic barriers that destroy a person’s ability to reenter and contribute to their community.

Our campaigns challenge harmful technology often misleadingly proposed as “alternatives” to incarceration or real decarceration, including racially biased risk assessment instruments and mass surveillance tools that include electronic monitoring, and gang databases. We reject net-widening technologies that: help expand the number of years a person is under the state’s control and increases the chance of re-incarceration through revocation; as well as drive community surveillance and e-carceration, effectively converting our communities into open-air jails.

The criminalization of people of color is something JLUSA, and other criminal justice reform organizations, are all too familiar with. The history of our organization, our mission, and our campaigns all consider the intersection of race in the fight to end mass incarceration. But an important, and ever-growing, vulnerable population are LGBTQI people.

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In 2016, JustLeadershipUSA launched the #CLOSErikers campaign, centering the leadership of people harmed by Rikers to demand the closure of the notorious jail complex which sits on a toxic landfill and is a site of cultural violence by jail guards.

In 2019, the New York City Council voted to close Rikers and replace it with four smaller jails. Our hard work has resulted in New York being the most decarcerated city in the country.

We remain committed to seeing not only the shuttering of Rikers forever, but the building of our communities for the long term. JLUSA will be leading community needs assessment and gap analysis for each borough, where a new borough-based facility will be located, in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.


#FREEnewyork was a grassroots campaign launched in 2017 to achieve real solutions to New York’s statewide jail crisis.

The campaign built the power and leadership of New Yorkers most harmed by incarceration, and demanded bold legislative action and fundamental change to New York’s pretrial system.

Anchored by JustLeadershipUSA and led by people directly impacted by mass incarceration, grassroots groups and more than 150 organizations statewide, the #FREEnewyork campaign demanded groundbreaking overhaul of New York State’s bail, discovery and speedy trial laws. No one should be jailed because they cannot afford bail.

In April 2019,  the campaign proved that change is possible, but winning three historic victories on issues of Bail, Discovery, and Speedy Trial.


The #CLOSEthecreek campaign, led by directly impacted individuals, built on the groundswell of local support for decarceration that has been developed through decades of successful advocacy. The #CLOSEthecreek campaign demanded that Philadelphia’s elected officials:

  • Close the House of Correction for good within 2 years
  • Cut the local prison population in half to no more than 3,000 people
  • End electronic monitoring
  • Reinvest savings in locally-run, community-based services for returning community members


The Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) is an irredeemable torture chamber. It was built to warehouse people alleged to have violated rules of probation or parole – infractions like missing an appointment or being late for curfew. The #CLOSEmsdf campaign was launched in June 2017 by people who have been directly harmed by MSDF. The campaign is led by a coalition of organizations, including: EXPO (Ex-incarcerated People Organizing), WISDOM, IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee), & JustLeadershipUSA.


JusticeLA in partnership with other organizations working with directly impacted communities, was formed to reclaim, reimagine and reinvest what L.A. County could do with the $3.5 billion allocated to building two new jails.

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