Events

Justice For All

Day of Giving & Night of Impact

A Virtual, Online Celebration

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
7:00 PM ET

In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Vera is transforming its annual in-person gala on Tuesday, May 12, into an online gala: a Day of Giving & Night of Impact. Vera works to end mass incarceration while ensuring fair treatment for people who live and work behind bars. During this crisis, the stakes are even higher than usual for incarcerated and detained people.

Supporters of Vera’s Day of Giving & Night of Impact will hear from this year’s honorees—Karen Seymour, executive vice president and general counsel at Goldman Sachs, the New York Football Giants, and NBC News—and be treated to performances by musicians and comedians. To advance the work that organizations on the front lines are doing in response to the pandemic, Vera president Nicholas Turner announced that starting Monday, April 6, for every additional $1,000 committed in support of this event, Vera will donate a total of $500 to three partner groups: Parole Preparation Project/Release Aging People in Prison (New York), the Orange County Justice Fund (California), and Operation Restoration (New Orleans).

Vera is harnessing strong relationships developed over decades with partners in government, corrections, and advocacy in over forty states to change their practices in response to the pandemic, urging them to move away from punitive strategies that fuel incarceration and toward solutions that prioritize the health and safety of every individual. Last month, Vera released nine COVID-19 fact sheets to help guide the people who run the country’s criminal and immigration legal systems, and began hosting a series of webinars to provide support for those seeking to mitigate the harms of the virus in their own communities. Vera has also deepened its impact in a growing list of cities where its influence is strong and the need is particularly great, including New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles – efforts which have already resulted in a decrease of people languishing in local jails.

“Unable to practice social distancing or to easily access soap or hand sanitizer, millions of people are trapped in America’s jails, prisons, and detention centers in settings that are ideal incubators for the spread of the virus,” Turner said. “Our overall success in battling COVID-19 depends on our response to it both in communities and behind jail and prison walls. We’re committed to supporting our justice reform allies in the field and are proud to celebrate the work of three nonprofits making a critical impact in the places we call home.” Participants in Vera’s Day of Giving & Night of Impact will have a chance to do the same.

“With New York at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, there is more urgency than ever to get our loved ones and elders out of prison. Almost one in four of the 43,000 people in New York State prison are 50 years or older. Just days ago, we learned of the first confirmed death of an incarcerated person at Sing Sing Prison from COVID-19,” said Michelle Lewin, executive director of the Parole Preparation Project. “The Release Aging People in Prison Campaign and Parole Preparation Project have called on Governor Cuomo and our elected officials to act quickly in the face of this crisis. We are proud to work with Vera to bring more awareness to this cause and to build support for bringing our people home.”

Jennifer Lee Koh, founder and president of the Orange County Bond Fund, said: “Vera’s investment in Orange County, California, has been instrumental to the creation of the Orange County Justice Fund and our work to increase access to justice and freedom for people detained by immigration authorities. We are especially grateful for Vera’s expertise and vision in the area of locally funded universal representation programs, and have built upon this vision to launch an immigrant bond fund that is ultimately working toward an end to immigration detention in the future.”

“Every program and initiative that we undertake is led by formerly incarcerated women and designed in response to community needs,” said Syrita Steib, executive director of Operation Restoration. “Since our founding in 2016, Operation Restoration has grown to 14 full-time staff who work together to grow and maintain OR’s 16 distinct programs, which range from direct services, alternative sentencing, and a bail fund to adult education and higher education in prison. Our staff is proud to partner with Vera to advance our shared advocacy efforts to end money bail and support women and girls impacted by the legal system.”

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