Equal Justice Initiative

Legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted, and others denied a fair trial.

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Montgomery, AL – EIN 631135091 eji.org    

The United States incarcerates its citizens more than any other country. Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts the poor and people of color and does not make us safer. EJI is working to end our misguided reliance on over-incarceration.

EJI believes we need a new era of truth and justice that starts with confronting our history of racial injustice.

American history begins with the creation of a myth to absolve white settlers of the genocide of Native Americans: the false belief that nonwhite people are less human than white people. This belief in racial hierarchy survived slavery’s abolition, fueled racial terror lynchings, demanded legally codified segregation, and spawned our mass incarceration crisis.

The dehumanizing myth of racial difference endures today because we don’t talk about it.

EJI is working to change that. We’re exposing the myth and its toxic legacy in our reports and videos—and on this page. Our Community Remembrance Project is empowering communities to change the physical landscape to honestly reflect our history. And we’re using the power of place to inspire people to visit Montgomery, Alabama, to learn and reflect in our Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

For more than 30 years, EJI lawyers have been winning relief for clients by telling their stories. We’ve overturned wrongful convictions and unfair sentences by exposing official misconduct and racial bias. We’ve had tremendous success in courtrooms across the country. But America needs a deeper and broader narrative shift to move from mass incarceration into an era of truth and justice: we need to honestly confront our history.

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Equal Justice Initiative

Equal Justice Initiative
Equal Justice Initiative logo.png
Formation1989
FounderBryan Stevenson
TypeNon-profit
PurposeProviding legal representation to those who may have been denied a fair trial
Location
Coordinates32°22′46″N 86°18′47″W / 32.37957°N 86.312983°W / 32.37957; -86.312983
Executive director
Bryan Stevenson
Websitewww.eji.org

The Equal Justice Initiative (or EJI) is a non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial.[1] It guarantees the defense of anyone in Alabama in a death penalty case.

Founder Bryan Stevenson was depicted in the legal drama Just Mercy which is based on his memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption which tells the story of Walter McMillian and, in less detail, the stories of numerous other cases that Stevenson worked (including not only adult death penalty cases but also U.S. Supreme Court cases which ended the death penalty and life imprisonment for child offenders).

Equal Justice Initiative won the 2020 Webby People’s Voice Award for Charitable Organization / Nonprofit in the category Web.[2]

History

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was founded in 1989 in Montgomery, Alabama, by attorney Bryan Stevenson, who has served as the organization's executive director ever since.[1] He had been working on Alabama defense cases since 1989 for the Southern Center for Human Rights and was director of its center for Alabama operations. It had received federal funding to provide legal representation to prisoners on death row. In 1994, after Republicans gained control of Congress in a mid-term election, they ceased funding such centers. Alabama is the only state that does not provide legal assistance to death row prisoners; EJI has committed to representing them.[1]

Stevenson converted his operation in Montgomery by founding a non-profit, the Equal Justice Initiative. In 1995 he was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, and he applied all of the money to support the EJI.[1] The EJI "guarantees legal representation to every inmate on the state’s death row."[3] It has worked to eliminate excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerate innocent death row prisoners, confront abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aid children prosecuted as adults.[3]

By 2013 EJI had a staff of 40, including attorneys and support personnel.[1]

On April 26, 2018, the EJI opened two new venues in Montgomery in memory of the victims of lynchings in the Southern United States: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and The Legacy Museum.[4]

Campaign against life-without-parole sentencing for juveniles

Following the Roper v. Simmons (2005) ruling, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to sentence to death a person who had been a minor under 18 at the time of the crime, Stevenson began to work to have similar thinking applied to the sentencing of a convicted minor to life-without-parole in prison. He has argued several cases in the Supreme Court, and has been part of a movement to urge changes in extreme sentencing of juveniles convicted of crimes.

The Court has made several significant rulings to lighten sentencing of juveniles since Roper v. Simmons. In 2006 EJI started a litigation campaign to challenge the sentencing of minors to life-without-parole. Stevenson testified before the court in 2009 in one case. In Graham v. Florida (2010), the Court ruled that "mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger in non-homicide cases are unconstitutional." Since 2010, EJI has provided legal representation to nearly 100 people in the United States who are entitled to new sentences under Graham.[5]

At that time, there were nearly "3000 children age 17 or younger who had been sentenced to imprisonment until death through life-without-parole sentences imposed with very little scrutiny or review. Children as young as 13 were among the thousands condemned to die in prison."[5]

Most of the sentences imposed on these juveniles were mandatory, but EJI continued to argue along the lines of the Court's ruling in Roper v. Simmons, that juveniles have "unique immaturity, impulsiveness, vulnerability, and capacity for redemption and rehabilitation."[5]

EJI argued in US Supreme Court cases Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs that the mandatory sentences constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" and were therefore unconstitutional. The Court ruled in these cases in June 2012 that even when cases involved homicide, mandatory life-without-parole sentences for minors 17 or younger are unconstitutional. The ruling affected statutes in 29 states.[1]

In Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), the Court ruled that the decision in Miller v. Alabama had to be applied retroactively, and required those sentencing to consider “children’s diminished culpability, and heightened capacity for change.”[5] An estimated 2300 prisoners nationwide may be affected whose sentences will be reviewed.

Campaign against the death penalty

In April 2015, EJI won the release on different grounds of Anthony Ray Hinton, a black man who had been on death row in Alabama for nearly 30 years; he had continued to maintain his innocence. He was released after being wrongfully convicted of murder due to inadequate counsel and faulty evidence. He had finally gained a new trial on appeal, as the defense found flaws in the main evidence used by the prosecution. In preparation for trial, the prosecution found that the bullets used in the crime did not match the gun they had traced to Hinton's home. There was no case, and the state dropped the charges.[6]

As of 2019, the EJI organization has prevented more than 125 people from receiving the death penalty.[7][8][9]

Studies

The EJI has published a number of studies, including Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, which was first published in 2015 and is in its 3rd edition. It concludes that a total of 3,959 lynchings of African Americans had occurred in the twelve states of the South from 1877 to 1950. The victims were mostly African-American men, although women and children were also killed. The report classified the lynchings as racial terrorism, designed to suppress the African-American community, especially as the southern legislatures were passing new laws and constitutions to disenfranchise most blacks at the turn of the century. Whites maintained this political exclusion, in part through regular intimidation and violence, through the mid-1960s.

The report discusses the long-term effects of the decades of violence on the African-American community and southern society, and on relations between the races.[10][11] According to the EJI, the history of lynching and white supremacy underlies the South's history of extensive use of the death penalty and incarceration of African Americans. Stevenson and EJI staff believe this past must be acknowledged and commemorated "with memorials and monuments that encourage and create space for the 'restorative power of truthtelling' ", as has been done by other countries and communities.[12][13]

This new research added nearly 700 cases to previous documentation of lynchings of African Americans in this period. EJI has since published two updated editions of its summary data, which increased the total number of black racial terror victims identified to 4,084 in the Southern states, and 300 in other states in this same time period.[14]

Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Legacy Museum

The Legacy Museum, in Montgomery, Alabama, and the nearby National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opened on April 26, 2018. The topic of the museum is the post-slavery treatment of African Americans by whites. Rather than ending, according to Equal Justice Initiative's head Bryan Stevenson, slavery "evolved": sharecropping, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, convict leasing, and lynching. The museum reflects "Stevenson's view that, unlike in [post-Apartheid] South Africa or post-Nazi Germany or many other societies traumatized by history, we’ve hardly begun to grapple with ours — and so cannot yet get beyond it."[15]

National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Opened on April 26, 2018, also in Montgomery, the Memorial is intended to call attention to "an aspect of the nation's racial history that’s discussed the least," according to Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson: the 4,400 victims of "terror lynchings" black people from 1877 through 1950. "The memorial's design evokes the image of a racist hanging, featuring scores of dark metal columns suspended in the air from above. The rectangular structures, some of which lie flat on the ground and resemble graves, include the names of counties where lynchings occurred, plus dates and the names of the victims. The goal is for individual counties to claim the columns on the ground and erect their own memorials."[16][17]

Other exhibits

In 2019, the initiative cooperated with the Levine Museum of the New South in preparing their exhibit "The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America".[18]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Moorer, Regina (2013). "Equal Justice Initiative". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  2. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (20 May 2020). "Here are all the winners of the 2020 Webby Awards". The Verge. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Bryan Stevenson", 2014, EJI website; accessed 17 August 2016
  4. ^ "A new lynching memorial rewrites American history". CNN Travel. 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  5. ^ a b c d "Death in Prison Sentences for Children" Archived 2012-10-01 at the Wayback Machine, Equal Justice Initiative website
  6. ^ Hanna, Jason (3 April 2015). "Alabama inmate freed after nearly 30 years on death row". CNN. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  7. ^ Jeffrey Toobin, "The Legacy of Lynching, on Death Row", New Yorker, 22 August 2016, pp. 38-47
  8. ^ Adams, Tim (1 February 2015). "Bryan Stevenson: 'America's Mandela'". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  9. ^ Solomon, Cara (13 February 2019). "Bringing Slavery's Legacy to Light, One Story at a Time". Harvard Law Bulletin. 70 (1): 46. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  10. ^ Robertson, Campbell (10 February 2015). "History of Lynchings in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 Names". New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  11. ^ "New Report Examines Lynchings And Their Legacy In The United States". NPR. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Conclusion". Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (Report) (3rd ed.). Montgomery, Alabama: Equal Justice Initiative. 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-05-10.
  13. ^ "Criminal Defense Lawyers". Friday, 27 November 2020
  14. ^ "Introduction". Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (Report) (3rd ed.). Montgomery, Alabama: Equal Justice Initiative. 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-05-10.
  15. ^ Hiatt, Fred (April 22, 2018). "The arc of white supremacy's history in America". Washington Post.
  16. ^ Reeves, Jay; Chandler, Kim (April 21, 2018). "New lynching memorial offers chance to remember, heal". Washington Post.
  17. ^ Campbell Robertson (25 Apr 2018). "A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen Anything Like It". New York Times.
  18. ^ Arrowood, Maddy (May 31, 2019). "Exhibit traces legacy of lynching in North Carolina through the stories of victims".

External links

Videos

IRS data by ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer


EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE

MONTGOMERY, AL 36104-2538 | Tax-exempt since April 1995
  • EIN: 63-1135091
  • Classification (NTEE)
    Censorship, Freedom of Speech and Press Issues (Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy)
  • Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3)
    Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
  • Donations to this organization are tax deductible.
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2019

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2019

PDF

990

Full Text

990 (filed on Oct. 19, 2020)

Full Filing

Raw XML

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2018

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2018

PDF

990

Full Text

990 (filed on May 16, 2019)

Full Filing

Raw XML

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2017

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2017

PDF

990

Full Text

990 (filed on April 21, 2018)

Full Filing

Raw XML

990

Total Revenue

$39,631,239

Total Functional Expenses $5,690,202
Net income $33,941,037
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $38,175,323 96.3%
Program services $909,252 2.3%
Investment income $312,141 0.8%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising -$106,266
Sales of assets -$1,464
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $342,253 0.9%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $82,719 1.5%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $2,733,728 48.0%
Other
Total Assets $58,115,411
Total Liabilities $1,064,753
Net Assets $57,050,658
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2016

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2016

Full Text

990 (filed on Sept. 18, 2017)

Full Filing

Raw XML

990

Total Revenue

$16,552,360

Total Functional Expenses $5,114,052
Net income $11,438,308
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $15,515,934 93.7%
Program services $1,051,233 6.4%
Investment income $109,539 0.7%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising -$146,310
Sales of assets $13,194 0.1%
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $8,770 0.1%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $82,997 1.6%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $2,585,054 50.5%
Other
Total Assets $23,394,638
Total Liabilities $285,017
Net Assets $23,109,621
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2015

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2015

PDF

990

Full Text

990 (filed on Dec. 12, 2016)

Full Filing

Raw XML

990

Total Revenue

$8,610,244

Total Functional Expenses $4,206,758
Net income $4,403,486
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $8,015,144 93.1%
Program services $613,271 7.1%
Investment income $40,004 0.5%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising -$53,730
Sales of assets -$7,445
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $3,000 0.0%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $75,814 1.8%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $2,272,523 54.0%
Other
Total Assets $11,586,174
Total Liabilities $51,438
Net Assets $11,534,736
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2014

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2014

PDF

990

Total Revenue

$3,479,006

Total Functional Expenses $3,738,018
Net income -$259,012
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $3,218,245 92.5%
Program services $217,757 6.3%
Investment income $30,505 0.9%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising $0
Sales of assets -$286
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $12,785 0.4%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $67,669 1.8%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $2,054,863 55.0%
Other
Total Assets $3,783,173
Total Liabilities $20,618
Net Assets $3,762,555
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2013

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2013

PDF

990

Total Revenue

$2,909,608

Total Functional Expenses $3,491,960
Net income -$582,352
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $2,698,925 92.8%
Program services $176,959 6.1%
Investment income $30,024 1.0%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising $0
Sales of assets $0
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $3,700 0.1%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $56,167 1.6%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $1,924,337 55.1%
Other
Total Assets $4,039,678
Total Liabilities $18,111
Net Assets $4,021,567
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2012

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2012

PDF

990

Raw XML

990

Total Revenue

$4,198,644

Total Functional Expenses $3,198,204
Net income $1,000,440
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $3,904,186 93.0%
Program services $270,177 6.4%
Investment income $21,331 0.5%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising $0
Sales of assets -$58
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $3,008 0.1%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $54,909 1.7%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $1,712,207 53.5%
Other
Total Assets $4,611,504
Total Liabilities $7,586
Net Assets $4,603,918
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2011

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2011

PDF

990

Raw XML

990

Total Revenue

$3,634,472

Total Functional Expenses $2,839,265
Net income $795,207
Notable sources of revenue Percent of total revenue
Contributions $3,505,074 96.4%
Program services $102,054 2.8%
Investment income $21,982 0.6%
Bond proceeds $0
Royalties $0
Rental property income $0
Net fundraising $0
Sales of assets -$659
Net inventory sales $0
Other revenue $6,021 0.2%
Notable expenses Percent of total expenses
Executive compensation $49,500 1.7%
Professional fundraising fees $0
Other salaries and wages $1,492,149 52.6%
Other
Total Assets $3,609,082
Total Liabilities $5,602
Net Assets $3,603,480
Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2010

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2010

PDF

990

Raw XML

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2009

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2009

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2008

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2008

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2007

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2007

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2006

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2006

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2005

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2005

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2004

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2004

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2003

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2003

PDF

990
IRS Filing

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Dec. 2001

Fiscal year ending Dec.

2001

PDF

990

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.

Fiscal year ending

Sept. 2001

Fiscal year ending Sept.

2001

PDF

990
IRS Filing

Form 990 documents available

Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.


Last Updated: 2021-01-17 06:26