Public misperceptions and corrosive messages about justice in the United States must be challenged and disrupted if we are to succeed in achieving systematic change. Understanding this, narrative change is a core goal in Vera’s fight to reimagine and transform America’s dysfunctional and inhumane justice system. In this work, we are actively integrating communications campaigns into our programs to advance powerful, galvanizing narratives about the need and opportunities for reform.

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CBS – 60 Minutes feature segment

Our first Restoring Promise site—the T.R.U.E. (which stands for “Truthfulness, Respect, Understanding, and Elevating”) unit at Cheshire Correctional Institute in Connecticut—was featured by 60 Minutes in a lengthy segment on March 31. The story featured interviews with people living and working at T.R.U.E. It also highlighted Shyquinn Dix, a recent graduate of the T.R.U.E. unit who is now a thriving student-athlete at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

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NBC News – And Justice For All

Vera’s President Nicholas Turner was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt as part of a televised town hall at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility that aired nationally on MSNBC in September. The town hall was part of NBC’s And Justice for All series focused on criminal justice reform and mass incarceration in America. Speaking with Turner at the town hall were entertainer and activist John Legend and former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (who was honored at Vera’s annual gala this year).

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Through Their Eyes

Through Their Eyes, a collaborative multimedia project coproduced by Vera and the people involved with our Restoring Promise unit at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction in Billerica, Massachusetts, launched in May. A dynamic collection of videos, photographs, audio recordings, and essays, Through Their Eyes tells stories of reform from the perspectives of those who live and work inside the jail’s walls.

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In Our Backyards

This year, Vera’s In Our Backyards initiative published a series of online reports to draw media and public attention to the fiscal and human costs of jail incarceration in communities across rural America. “Keeping the Lights On: Incarcerating the Bluegrass State” explores how incarceration has been used as a tool for economic development in Eastern Kentucky as the region’s coal revenues have dried up. “This is By Design: Jail, Justice, and Race in Southwest Georgia” shines a light on the toll that high rates of incarceration and post-release supervision have taken on residents of Georgia’s small and rural communities and charts criminalization’s role in the state’s long history of exploitation, repression, and systemic racism.