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Open Society Foundations Announce 2023 Soros Justice Fellows

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New York, Nov. 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Open Society Foundations is pleased to announce the 2023 cohort of Soros Justice Fellows, which includes a mix of emerging and established leaders in the field of criminal justice reform, including public educators, artists, lawyers, activists, non-profit innovators, journalists, and filmmakers from across the United States.

“Over the more than a decade that I have worked with the Soros Justice Fellowships, I’ve seen a great number of fellows go on and continue to serve as changemakers in their local communities, and nationally,” said Adam Culbreath, Senior Team Manager at Open Society–U.S. “This is an incredibly unique program to advance justice in the U.S., which supports the notion that change often happens from the ground up.

“Mass incarceration has an enormous and disastrous toll on our communities and represents one of the most glaring injustices of our nation. Today, nearly 10 million Americans—including millions of children—have an immediate family member in jail or prison,” said Christina Voight, program manager at Open Society–U.S. “Each Soros Justice Fellow can play a role in changing this broken system.”

Each fellow will receive stipends ranging from $100,000 to $140,000 for projects lasting between 12 and 18 months to ensure accountability in the U.S. criminal justice system by developing new ways to combat mass incarceration, youth criminalization, surveillance, immigration policies, racial disparities, and police violence. The Soros Justice Fellowships were founded in 1997 and have funded over 400 individuals working to curb mass incarceration and ensure a fair and equitable system of justice.

2023 Soros Justice Fellows

Ashley Rojas will educate movement leaders and cultivate power between the movement for #PoliceFreeSchools and the broader culture of abolitionist organizing efforts to end harm and punishment.

Avalon Betts-Gaston and Lloyd Gaston will research the scope and impact of Illinois Worker Rights amendment on incarcerated workers.

Betty Washingtonwill create OASIS (Our Aging Seniors Incarcerated Society), a project focusing on advocating for the needs of justice-impacted seniors.

Bridgette Simpson will educate the public and create The Protected Class Network, seeking to make justice-impacted people a protected class.

Cheryl Fairbanks will educate native Indigenous people and strengthen concepts of justice through an Indigenous peacemaking lens.

Dominique Branson will educate, document, and destabilize anti-Black ideologies that legitimize pretrial dangerousness predictions and harm Black communities.

Jenani Srijeyanthan will educate and establish a counter-narrative to carceral child sexual abuse prevention approaches through the amplification, technical resourcing, and proliferation of a nationwide prevention movement that does not prioritize policing, criminalization, or surveillance.

Jordan Martinez-Mazurek will educate the public and start local and regional dialogues around fighting the expansion of mass incarceration in the South and in Appalachia.

Mary Baxter will, through an art piece entitled Reimagining Dignity: A Love Letter to Ourselves, educate the public to reimagine racially-charged and gender-oppressive historical events. The piece will reckon with the fallacies of first- and second-wave feminism.

Omisade Burney-Scott will curate a multidisciplinary initiative and educate the public on reproductive justice, radical Black feminism, gender liberation, and pathways to normalizing menopause and aging for the marginalized Black population.

Rachel Gilmer will educate the public and build a united front of survivors and healthcare providers with the goal of creating non-carceral solutions that address the root causes of violence in our communities.

Talila Lewis will educate and create media and art that highlights how ableism informs and drives racism, anti-Blackness, capitalism, and other forms of oppression, violence, and inequity.

Toshio Meronek will educate the public and justice advocates about the expansion of involuntary medical conservatorship in Arkansas, with a focus on its potential human and financial consequences.

Wendi Cooper and Matt Nadel will organize a statewide screening tour of the documentary film CANS Can’t Stand to educate the public about the archaic 1805 Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation statute and the harsh punishments it imposed.

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