Justice Not Jails (JnJ) started at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation (OUUC) in 2013 and now includes other religious and secular organizations and individuals. OUUC provides meeting space and funding to support our programs. JnJ does not have regular meetings; rather, we share information through a Google Group mailing list and link up with others to get things done.
Justice not Jails (JnJ) works to reform the criminal justice system in Thurston County. We lobby local governments, educate the public, take on projects to help people involved in the justice system, and share information about justice system reforms here and elsewhere.
We’ve identified specific goals listed below and our members decide where they want to be involved.
- Support diversion of appropriate detainees.
- Support rehabilitation and integration of incarcerated people back into the community.
- Eliminate racial, income and other disparities in the justice system.
- Support positive interactions with law enforcement that promote stronger community and increased public safety.
- Reduce violence that unnecessarily escalates conflicts.
- Encourage interventions that route people to medical centers when problems are caused by mental illness or substance abuse.
- Encourage planning and coordination among justice system players for effective programs and efficient use of public funds.
JnJ interacts with a wide range of government staff locally including the corrections, law enforcement, prosecution, defense, and courts. Members attend justice-related meetings and serve in advisory capacities. We also sponsor public events to educate the community and network with each other on justice issues through our JnJ Google Group.
Here are some of the projects JnJ members have worked on:
- Successfully lobbied Thurston County to adopt an ordinance preventing the Sheriff from honoring hold requests from ICE.
- Successfully lobbied the Thurston County Law and Justice Council to add citizen representatives.
- Established and operate the CARE Fund to assist indigent Thurston County residents who are involved in the criminal justice system. The Fund pays small fines to help them close/manage their court cases, get their drivers’ licenses reinstated, purchase bus passes and cover other expenses to help people get back on their feet.
- Held public education meetings on a variety of justice issues with the County Prosecuting Attorney, County Commissioners, Superior Court Judge, Public Defender, Sheriff’s office, formerly incarcerated people and others.
- Organized candidate forums for candidates for the offices of Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney and Thurston County Commissioner.
- Participated in an inter-jurisdictional feasibility study of a community corrections program for Thurston County.
- Updated and expanded the Thurston County jail library.
- Constructed clothing racks at the Public Defender’s office where defendants can find nice clothing for court appearances.
- Sponsored a presentation about the IF Project, a collaboration of law enforcement, currently and previously incarcerated adults and community partners focused on intervention, prevention, and reduction in incarceration and recidivism.
- Endorsed and supported a variety of initiatives by other groups.
- Lobbied the Washington Legislature along with other groups on reforming the law on Legal Financial Obligations. The effort was successful; E2SHB 1783 is now law, as of 6/7/2018.
- Endorsed local government grant applications for innovative justice projects.
- Our members have served on the Thurston County Treatment Sales Tax Advisory Committee and on the Thurston County Law and Justice Council.
We welcome new members and visitors who would like to help us learn and advocate for change. If you would like more information or be added to the JnJ Google Group, please contact Steve Tilley.
On May 26, 2021 Justice Not Jails and OUUC hosted a Community Forum on Justice Innovation and Racial Equity in Thurston County. You can watch this presentation here:
On August 3, Justice not Jails hosted a presentation by Larry Jefferson and David Trieweiler on The Fallacy of Public Safety and Mass Incarceration. You may view it here: https://vimeo.com/637552421