FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2018
JustLeadershipUSA Launches #WORKINGfuture Economic Justice Campaign in South Carolina in Partnership with Directly Impacted Leaders Statewide
CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF WITH COLUMBIA TOWNHALL
(March 16, 2018 – Columbia, South Carolina) JustLeadershipUSA launched the #WORKINGfuture campaign on March 15th in South Carolina in partnership with directly impacted leadership from across the state. The Campaign seeks to eradicate the myriad legal and extralegal barriers to economic justice faced by people that have had contact with the criminal justice system. #WORKINGfuture will also challenge the pervasive and entrenched stigmatization faced by people with convictions that serves as a modern-day scarlet letter. To kick off the campaign, JustLeadershipUSA hosted the first of several community town halls in Columbia to engage directly impacted communities in a discussion on the damaging effect of post-punishment barriers to jobs, housing, education and voting with Pastor Kenny Glasgow of Dothan, Alabama.
“A punishment is more than just the years of your sentence. It doesn’t end when you walk out the prison gates—living with a felony is a life sentence,” says South Carolina campaign leader, Kimani Davis, who is based in Columbia. “This is a system designed to keep us in chains. The #WORKINGfuture campaign is about breaking them.”
As one of the twenty most incarcerated states in this country, South Carolina also has some of the worst racial disparities in the United States as black people are incarcerated at twice the rate of their white counterparts. Even though South Carolina has seen a drop in incarceration that mirrors the national trend, thirty percent of South Carolinians have a criminal record.
“South Carolina’s incarceration crisis impacts communities across the state long after a person has been released from jail, prison, or supervision, with dire consequences to entire families and communities. JustLeadershipUSA is honored to partner with leaders challenging unjust economic barriers for themselves and their communities.” said Megan French-Marcelin, JustLeadershipUSA’s Fair Hiring Project Coordinator.
The statewide campaign will activate, mobilize and support directly-impacted leadership to challenge fifty long years of policy that has continually and systematically over-policed and over-incarcerated low-income communities and communities of color.
“There are 48,000 laws in this country that are known as ‘collateral consequences,’ which is exactly why we launched the #WORKINGfuture campaign,” says Jerry Blassingame, a native of Greenville and #WORKINGfuture community organizer. “What we call collateral consequences are in fact intentional post-punishment barriers to keep Black and Brown families in perpetual second-class citizenship. The #WORKINGfuture campaign seeks the full restoration of rights and dignities for communities most impacted by the criminal justice system,” he continued. “We demand economic and social reinvestment in our communities throughout South Carolina.”
“If we are to move forward,” says Chris Cherry, a campaign leader based in Charleston, “it will be because those of us most impacted by the justice system take a stand.”
For more information on the campaign or a list of Town Halls, please contact campaign coordinator, Megan French-Marcelin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Led by JustLeadershipUSA, and in partnership with directly impacted communities, the #WORKINGfuture campaign seeks to eliminate the barriers to employment that people with records are facing. The #WORKINGfuture campaign will build power within and among impacted communities to challenge legislative barriers that exclude people from the fair chance they deserve, and transform the narrative about the negative impacts of collateral consequences on people, families, and communities.