JustLeadershipUSA’s campaigns, while differing in location, scope, and approach, all fundamentally adhere to our organization’s values, and all work to help us achieve our ultimate goal of #halfby2030.

For the last four decades, America has relentlessly relied on incarceration as a solution to complex social problems– discarding far too many lives and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars each year. Like any disease, this nation’s prison epidemic affects a broad spectrum of individuals, families, and communities. Mass imprisonment severs important family relationships–consigning millions of American children to multigenerational poverty, low educational achievement, poor social and emotional development and potential future criminal justice involvement. The cycling in and out of Americans diminishes our capacity to build stronger, safer communities by straining the fragile social networks of the poor neighborhoods that absorb the 600,000 men and women returning home each year.

On a national level, the explosive growth of our prison population poses a formidable threat to America’s economic prosperity. High removal rates of working age, able-bodied citizens results in an enormous loss of human capital and diminishes the quality of our workforce. Incarceration produces unparalleled rates of unemployment, with rates as high as 60 percent among formerly incarcerated individuals in states like New York, almost ten times the national rate. High unemployment among formerly incarcerated people results in a loss of income tax revenue, higher state and federal government assistance payouts, and detracts from spending for other essential government services.


Americans across the political spectrum are coming to terms with the reality that our current rates of incarceration are too costly, ineffective, and unsustainable, making prison reform an increasingly bipartisan effort. JustLeadershipUSA is working to strengthen America–its communities, its values, and its traditions–by elevating the voice of individuals and communities that are most impacted by crime and imprisonment to drive smart reforms that reduce our reliance on incarceration. The time has come to put fewer people in prison and instead tackle our social problems head-on. Our American values remind us that prisons must no longer serve as a substitute for sound social policies. Problems like mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness are better addressed through comprehensive community based social services and interventions that cost less and yield greater results. Join #halfby2030 and demand a justice system that is fair, effective, and reflective of our values.

Decarceration is possible without compromising public safety.

It is possible to build a society where restoration, not incarceration, is the answer. States across the country are already beginning to downsize their juvenile and adult prison populations while also decreasing rates of serious crime. You can help achieve a safer and more just America.

Incarceration in the USA

The numbers are shocking, but people and communities aren't reducible to numbers. Beyond "mass incarceration" we must defeat the logic and structural injustice of disinvested communities and cultures of violence including racist policing and prison.