In the era of mass incarceration that has greatly affected the urban, minority community, the Alliance of Families for Justice (AFJ) is fighting back on behalf of people of color.
“New York state prisons have a population comprised of nearly 80 percent Black and Latino people,” according to the AFJ website. “The average age of the inhabitants in these hostile environments is 37, including teens as young as 16 who are automatically prosecuted as adults.”
AFJ’s services would aim to prevent another case like the one of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who was held in Rikers Island Prison for three years without ever being convicted of a crime — a case that gained national attention and turned Browder into the poster child for mass incarceration and prison reform. Following his release, Browder dealt with mental health issues that developed during his time in Rikers and led to his suicide in 2015.
These statistics are ones that the non-profit organization is looking to change in the near future with a specific set of visions and goals lays out in their brochure.
In an effort to completely do away with mass incarceration, AFJ looks to empower families of incarcerated people and people with criminal records, provide services to families dealing with the challenges of having an incarcerated loved one, embracing and training minorities to become leaders and mobilizing voting power to influence politicians on fighting to end mass incarceration.
Some of the services that AFJ provides, according to the NPO’s brochure, are legal referrals to pro bono attorneys in the state, counseling, “welcome home” events for formerly incarcerated people, advocacy and voter registration.
AFJ is located in “one of the hardest hit communities” by mass incarceration, Harlem, and is directed by Civil Rights advocate and former criminal defense attorney Soffiyah Elijah.
“Now is the most important time to get involved,” Elijah says on AFJ’s website. “Because we are right at the beginning of this great work. You can make a difference.”
For more information on the Alliance for Families for Justice, please go to their website: www.afj-ny.org