Rachael Payton - Director of Communications
January 19, 2023
Today, Dream.Org, the national nonprofit dedicated to closing prison doors and opening doors of opportunity, announced a $1 million Justice Innovation Prize to identify, promote, and support innovative approaches to disrupting the prison industry. The Justice Innovation Prize will uplift technological solutions to America’s overcrowded prison and seeks to inspire more venture capital support for innovations that will establish decarceration as a new industry, as opposed to the current prison industry that profits off of incarceration without supporting our communities.
“A prison system that sees 77% of formerly incarcerated people return within five years is clearly not working,” said Dream.Org National Justice Director Janos Marton. “That is because we have not evolved beyond using dungeons for punishment in three centuries, leaving incarcerated people without the education, rehabilitation, job training, and other support they need to succeed after serving their time. Simply locking more people up for more time is not a solution that is serving our communities or keeping us safe. Instead of wasting more money and lives on something we know isn’t working, we’re looking to leverage the power of emerging technologies and venture capital to disrupt this system, ushering in different models that are focused on better outcomes.”
"The prison industry is a $90 billion industry built on a repeat customer model and using designs from the 17th century. It's time that we tap the transformative power of new technology to disrupt this industry, the way Airbnb, Uber, and Amazon disrupted theirs,” said Dream.Org founder Van Jones.
The Justice Innovation Prize follows the 2022 Innovations in Justice Tech Fellowship Program, a three-month accelerator program, led by Dream.Org, the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (AmFam Institute), and Village Capital, which helped advance ten companies working to disrupt the prison industrial complex. In August 2022, ten companies - 80% led by a minority founder and/or CEO - were selected to participate, receiving a stipend of $10,000 plus another $10,000 capital investment upon program completion. And, after a series of Venture Forums where all companies had the opportunity to present before investors, three companies - ConConnect, Good Call Technologies, and Rasa - were selected as winners, with each receiving an additional $100,000 in investment capital.