The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and both Republicans and Democrats agree we need solutions to safely and smartly reduce the prison population. Dream.Org’s Empathy Network works with directly impacted people and with politicians from both parties on strategic state and federal campaigns and policies designed to end the era of mass incarceration and strengthen our communities. Our issue areas include sentencing reform, conditions of confinement, economic empowerment for returning citizens, and drug policy.
This year, we are working on policy campaigns in nine states: Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. We are partnering with directly impacted Empathy Network leaders on the ground in every state, each of whom went through our summer advocacy training program in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Read the latest updates on our state campaigns.
Federally, we are committed to passing the EQUAL Act, which would end the racist sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and bring thousands of people unjustly sentenced home from federal prison. Learn more about our campaign and how you can get involved.
The most powerful voices in the fight for criminal justice reform are often those most impacted by the broken system. That is why we built the Empathy Network, America’s largest bipartisan community of formerly incarcerated activists, families and allies. Empathy Network leaders & members are on the front lines of our campaigns, our local partners on the ground, and our most effective messengers in Washington, D.C.
Learn the latest about the Empathy Network:
- Are you organizing campaigns, events, and/ or programs for those impacted by the criminal justice system? Apply to our Empathy Network Leaders Fund.
- Meet our 2023 Dream Justice Cohort - our training program created to provide justice-impacted leaders with the skills they need to change the criminal justice system. Apply to join our 2024 cohort!
- Learn about our inaugural Justice Next Cohort - a leadership development program for young adults.
- Day of Empathy is the nation’s largest distributed day of action for criminal justice reform. Join us by finding an event near you as we work together to end mass incarceration.
Ready to join us? To get involved in our national and local campaigns, and our training programs - including our summer-long advocacy cohort and young adult cohort, sign up to join the Empathy Network.
The United States spends more than $90 billion a year on jail, prison, probation, and parole to terrible results - horrific prison conditions rife with human rights abuses and high recidivism rates. It is time to disrupt the incarceration industry — and replace it with a decarceration industry. This monumental task will require, at its core, “justice innovation.”
It is time to leverage the power of technology, finance and community wisdom. By doing so, we can cut incarceration rates, crime and wasted taxpayer dollars. This new sector will bring promising tech into the criminal justice conversation, while growing a new intellectual and financial space. Learn more about our $1 Million Justice Innovation Prize.
Watch our Justice Innovation Prize mini-documentary!
At Dream.Org, we know that those who are closest to the problem are often those closest to the solution. That's why we created the Dream Justice Cohort, a training program created to provide justice-impacted leaders with the skills they need to change the criminal justice system – from organizing and advocacy to media skills.
Participants are joined by our talented staff and previous cohort graduates and receive the most innovative training for justice leaders across the country. Apply to be a part of our 2024 Dream Justice Cohort.
In 2024 in partnership with the NBA Foundation we created the Justice Next Cohort – a skill-building and leadership development program to empower and equip the next generation of young adults who are impacted by the criminal justice system or the climate crisis.