Voices of #cut50

#cut50 is launching a storytelling campaign to amplify the voices of people hurt by our broken criminal justice system


Voices of #cut50 is a solutions-oriented storytelling campaign. We are gathering the stories of individuals who have been personally impacted by the criminal justice system. These stories will showcase the frontlines of the criminal justice reform movement. 

Here are a few of our stories: 

Shaka Senghor

Shaka Senghor: “I know the power of transformation and redemption firsthand.”

Shaka is a writer, mentor, and motivational speaker whose story of redemption has inspired people around the country. As #cut50’s Director of Strategy and Innovation, Shaka uses his story to inspire societal change and policy change.

Shaka transformed his life and discovered his love for writing while serving nineteen years in prison, time he spent examining his life and the decisions that led him to spend his youth in a 6′ x 8′ cell.

“What I didn’t know then was how the nineteen years in prison -- seven of which were in solitary -- would transform me,” says Shaka. “I believe in redemption because I experienced it. And today, I work for transformation.”

By sharing his story, Shaka has inspired mothers of murder victims to forgive, inspired young men in the streets to choose a college degree over a prison number, and shifted the thinking of tough-on-crime advocates from the lock-em-up-throw-away-the-key mentality to believing redemption is possible. 


Jessica Jackson Sloan: “Prison Rips Apart Families. We have to change that.”

Jessica is a human rights attorney who began her career representing California death row inmates in their appeals. As #cut50’s national director, she now oversees #cut50 work to end mass incarceration.

Jessica’s powerful work to craft better solutions to help, not hurt, communities was sparked by her first-hand impact. “I had just given birth to my first child when my first husband was sent to prison,” says Jessica. “His incarceration ripped apart our family, left me in dire straits, and drained me emotionally. And all this happened for a non-violent drug-related crime. I couldn’t believe the lack of logic in addressing the crime, so I became a criminal defense attorney.”


Crystallee Crain: “I lived the stigma and silence of being a child of an incarcerated parent.”

“I’m the only person in my immediate family without a felony,” says Crystallee. “I know it’s not true, but growing up, I felt I was the child of the worst people in the planet.” Silence about the ways criminalization hurts families like Crystallee’s is one of the biggest barriers to change. Crystallee spent her childhood living with stigma and silence about her brother, father, and other family members being incarcerated.

Separation, trauma, anger, and the acute economic impact of incarceration hurt millions of family members in this country. That’s why Crystallee channeled her channel her anger and experience into action. As an advocate and educator, she works to prevent other young people from experiencing the isolation and violence she grew up with.


Hannah Groce: “Stop the pipeline. Our next generation needs restorative justice.”

Hannah is the child of formerly incarcerated parents. She also works with over-criminalized youth to help prevent them from getting caught in cycles of punishment that put them on track to prison. Hannah has seen kids as young as pre-kindergartners get shuffled in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Through her education and coaching work, she has worked with Black and Brown youth disproportionately targeted or punished for minor incidents at school that lead to criminalization. Hannah believes “Every kid needs a fair chance -- like the one my brother and I had -- to succeed. That’s why restorative justice, a system where everyone involved in an incident can come up with solutions together, and community policing are key to transforming our broken system.”


What's next? Help move Voices of #cut50 forward.

We have access to incredibly powerful stories. And we know there are many more stories that should be part of this campaign. We need support and partnerships to harness the transformative impact of this campaign.

We are looking for different kinds of partnerships:

  • Are you a storyteller? We want to hear your story. Maybe you want to tell us your personal story and add your voice to this project. Or maybe you are a filmmaker or journalist who gathering stories that this series can spotlight. We are looking for stories via interviews, existing video/film clips, and other visual forms.

  • Are you a media or production company? There are many stories to tell and we need help turning interviews into shareable digital profiles and videos. We are looking for media-saavy partners to help us produce, package, and distribute content. 

  • Are you a changemaker with interested audiences? Are you part of an organization, project, or media platform that aims to change minds about the criminal justice system? Would your listeners, readers, and colleagues want to hear these stories, or perhaps use as part of their advocacy? We are looking for co-sponsors to help connect this storytelling series to broad audiences.

Want to be a part of Voices of #cut50?

CONTACT: Alex Gudich

#cut50 Communications Director

alex@dreamcorps.us |  (415) 240 2016

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