While many of us will never have an encounter with the justice system, for specific groups of people, the odds are extremely high right they will. 

monster-infographics__01.png

The United States leads the world in incarceration rates: Home to five percent of the world’s population yet nearly 25 percent of all prisoners

monster-infographics__02.png

Between 1980 and 2010 there was a 220 percent increase in the prison population, due largely to mandatory minimum sentences

monster-infographics_03.png

African Americans make up 13.3 percent of the U.S. population according to census data, but black men reportedly make up 38 percent of all prison inmates.

monster-infographics_04.png

Black youth are more than 5x as likely to be detained or jailed compared to white youth.


There are a million bad decisions kids make every day, but if you’re an urban black youth like Steve, the consequences can be far greater.

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 1.16.12 PM.png

In Monster, Steve struggles to reclaim his identity and humanity in the face of an indifferent justice system set on a conviction over giving him a second chance.


I hope people will have more sympathy as to why kids in urban communities get themselves into these circumstances. This is a time when lots of people are being falsely accused, so I hope this movie gives people insight into the fact that there are good people who come from the hood, and also innocent people.
— A$AP ROCKY

The criminal justice system impacts over 2 million people behind bars. Like Steve, it also touches the lives of countless family members, police and correctional officers, judges, attorneys, and victims of crime.

These are some of their stories.


From The Marshall Project: We are Witnesses

"We Are Witnesses" is a video series from The Marshall Project about the millions of Americans whose lives are entwined in our criminal justice system. It is about the soul-destroying court bureaucracy, the unending trauma of being a crime victim, the pain of a parent (whether the child is criminal or crime victim), the misunderstood and the mistreated mentally ill. We Are Witnesses reveals a system that takes a toll on everyone it touches — guards, police, the incarcerated, crime victims, dads, moms, prosecutors, defenders, judges and kids — but also demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

ismael nazario

Ismael Nazario, who was formerly incarcerated as a teenager, talks about being forced to assimilate to the violent youth environment at Rikers Island, also known as "Gladiator School."

Tareaphe Richards

Former corrections officer Tareaphe Richards describes his first run-in with law enforcement, why he decided to become a corrections officer, and what the inside of Rikers Island is really like.

Venida Browder

Kalief Browder's mother, Venida, describes the ways in which her son's horrifying experiences while wrongfully imprisoned at Rikers Island led him to suicide two years after charges were dropped.


From FREEAMERICA: #mypotential

"My Potential" is a digital storytelling project from FREEAMERICA that highlights individuals affected by America’s criminal justice system, including leaders in the field, union workers, currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, and their families.

JUAN-FreeAmerica.png

juan

When I was 10-years-old, another student was caught with narcotics and he blamed it on me. At the time I was really trying my best to learn English, and really be a good kid. Students and teachers seeing me get handcuffed brought a bad image of me.

TONIE-FreeAmerica.jpg

TONIE

I just believe that it doesn’t always take a person who commits crimes over and over and over again to wind up in prison. Something can happen in your life – and it can take thirty seconds – and it can change your entire life.
 

Learn more about some of the many organizations working tirelessly to ensure the United States criminal justice system is fair and equitable for all, and recognizes that people have the capacity to change and make worthy contributions to society.

 
All Of Us or None.gif
 

All of US or None

All of Us or None (AOUON) is a national grassroots community organizing effort working to reverse the discriminatory policies and practices affecting formerly incarcerated individuals.

equaljusticeLeague.png
 

The EQUAL justice initiative

The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

 
FortuneSociety-logo.png
 

Fortune society

We believe in the power of people to change. We help individuals with justice involvement rebuild their lives through innovative services and advocacy.

FreeAmerica-logo.png
 

Freeamerica

FREEAMERICA is a multi-year culture campaign initiated by John Legend to change the national conversation about our country’s misguided policies and transform America’s criminal justice system.

 
InnocenceProject-logo.png
 

The Innocence Project

The Innocence Project exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

justleadership.jpg
 

just leadership USA

JustLeadershipUSA is dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in #halfby2030.

 
LJ_Logo_Square.png
 

Latino Justice

We believe in the power of people to change. We help individuals with justice involvement rebuild their lives through innovative services and advocacy. Using the power of the law together with advocacy and education, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in school and work, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities.

LDF-logo.png
 

NAACP legal defense &

educationAL Fund

The NAACP LDF’s Race and Policing Reform campaign seeks to promote unbiased and responsible policing policies and practices at the national, state and local levels.

 
A New Way of Life.jpg
 

A New way of Life

Using the power of the law together with advocacy and education, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in school and work, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities. A New Way of Life is dedicated to helping women, families and our communities break the cycle and heal from the formidable experiences of incarceration.

SentencingProject-logo.png
 

A New way of Life

A New Way of Life is dedicated to helping women, families and our communities break the cycle and heal from the formidable experiences of incarceration.

 
Vera-logo.png
 

Vera institute of Justice

We envision a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone.

YouthFirstLogo.png
 

Youth first

Youth First is a national advocacy campaign to end the incarceration of youth by closing youth prisons and investing in community-based alternatives to incarceration and programs for youth.

Monster is about something really important to me: incarceration and how young people get caught in the system. There’s been a lot of talk lately in America about how to make the justice system more fair, but we’re not there yet. We have to decide what kind of society we want to be: do we want to be most incarcerated society in the world or do we want to invest in all our young people?
— John Legend