By Aaron Clark, Founder & CEO & Simone D. Ross, Interim COO, Justice Reskill
In 2019 the total prison population in the US was 1,430,800 ¹. BIPOC people (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) make up the majority of this population (Black residents 29%, Hispanic residents 24%, white residents 12%). Black people represent 5% of the population in our home state of Colorado, yet they represent 17% of the state’s jail population and 18% of the state’s prison population ². The disproportionality in BIPOC justice-involved communities is staggering. African Americans are incarcerated five times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African American women is two times more than white women ³.
This imbalance has a compounding effect on BIPOC justice-involved people. They are met with systemic barriers, laws, rules, and biases that impede their ability to access career opportunities, housing, education, and other fundamental opportunities that support full participation in society. Justice Reskill exists to empower justice-involved individuals to transcend personal and societal limitations to secure long-term professional success.
Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) are in our DNA. We understand that the only way we can fulfill our mission is to elevate equity at all times. At Justice Reskill we affirm our commitment to upholding these values by directly tackling issues and instances of inequity. JEDI is an action, a way of being, operating, influencing, and lifting others up as we climb. With the understanding that JEDI is a continuously evolving journey, Justice Reskill integrates JEDI by:
- Exercising intentionality as we build a leadership team that mirrors those we serve.
- Building partnerships and affiliations with aligned organizations that understand and value BIPOC and justice-involved people.
- Recruiting, hiring, and elevating a diverse staff.
- Providing our staff and students with world-class services and support designed to remedy and transform inequity.
- Appointing a majority Board that is representative of those we serve.
- Developing a JEDI framework for all staff and the Justice Reskill community.
As we live our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; we aim to bring others along this transformation. The reach of our mission will inspire individual and systemic confrontation of bias. It will provoke new ways of thinking about justice-involved individuals while supporting their realization of agency over their lives. We recognize that transforming the systemic inequities justice-involved people experience is a journey, but we are confident that our focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion will catalyze tangible, true change.