Effective Monday, March 16 2020, CJIs operations have been shifted to all-remote work. Our offices located at 147 Prince Street in Brooklyn are closed to visitors. We have done this in order to adhere to the advice of New York State’s public health experts to promote and support social distancing. For now, we have postponed all events hosted at our office or convened by us until further notice. We at the CJI embrace this sense of responsibility and accountability to all of our stakeholders, and, by working collectively, we aim to demonstrate the best of ourselves. We thank you for your unwavering commitment to justice, your patience, and cooperation. We couldn't do it without YOU. Learn more...
Funding Grassroots Organizations to End Mass Incarceration & State Violence
CJI’s mission is to end mass criminalization and incarceration by building and strengthening the infrastructure of the grassroots criminal justice movement to fundamentally transform the U.S. criminal legal system. We fund where the movement is developing, shifting and growing. We believe this movement should be led by those most impacted by the injustices of the current system, working in alliances across race, class, faith, gender, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status and age.
NOW IS THE TIME.
CJI Statement on Derek Chauvin's Verdict:
The Eyes of the World on Minneapolis
Published April 21, 2021
This morning, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stands convicted of all three counts of third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin now faces decades in prison. Though the Circle for Justice Innovations (CJI) embraces the jury's verdict, we cannot label this victory as “justice.” This is not justice. This is simple accountability. True justice would be George Floyd having the chance to live and grow old, or Adam Toledo, or Daunte Wright, or Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old girl killed by Columbus, OH, police after calling 911 for assistance just yesterday, only moments before the jury delivered its verdict.
It should give us pause that, even though this act of murder was committed in the broad light of day, filmed over nearly ten minutes, and witnessed by medical authorities whose attempts to intervene and render assistance were rebuffed, Chauvin's guilty verdict was neither guaranteed nor even widely expected. We have seen too many cases where video evidence and witnesses do not necessarily result in an indictment or a conviction. America’s police accountability gap is recognized globally, and our collective resignation about it speaks volumes to how much work is still left for us to do across this country.
Many things were different this time around: Minnesota’s progressive AG Keith Ellison played a key role and, seemingly for the first time, the “blue wall of silence” came down with several police officers and law enforcement experts testifying for the prosecution. But, by far, it was the daily protests worldwide and commensurate media scrutiny that built public support for a robust criminal prosecution that ultimately produced this conviction.
Incremental legislative fixes like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 are a good start. We surely need expanded accountability over our police departments and officers. We also need a swift end to private prisons, prison slave labor, and lax gun laws. But even more, we need a fundamental reorientation of the U.S. criminal legal system, away from rampant criminalization, mass incarceration, and state-sanctioned violence, toward a newly reimagined system of public safety. CJI stands ready to sustain and expand our work building and strengthening this growing grassroots movement through our unique model of inclusive grantmaking that prioritizes the voices and perspectives of those most impacted by the injustices of the current system, working in alliances across race, class, faith, gender, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, and age.
This new system will support treatment over incarceration, place the interests of people over profits, and restructure state and city budgets in ways that redirect precious public resources to life-saving social services that decrease the frequency of violent outcomes and community investments that lift up everyone. Americans deserve a new system of restorative justice that replaces the current police state’s priorities of punishment and control with ones that seek to keep our community members at home and connected to the wellness, mental health, housing, education, and employment resources they need to heal and thrive.
Yours in Solidarity,
Aleah Bacqie Vaughn
Aleah Bacquie Vaughn