In order to build an open society that is fair and accountable to all of its members, the U.S. Justice Fund focuses its grantmaking, educational and advocacy activities on two objectives in the United States. In pursuing these two objectives, OSI places a premium on empowering those individuals whose rights, economic self-sufficiency and political participation have systematically been undercut, so that they can provide leadership in their communities and serve as catalysts for just policies and practices. We place priority on the needs of low-income individuals or who historically have been the targets of discriminatory practices.
Securing Equal Justice
OSI focuses on securing procedural and substantive justice for all individuals by developing criminal and civil justice systems that are accessible and impartial, protect fundamental human rights, prohibit arbitrary and discriminatory government action, and remove barriers that prevent individuals from participating fully in the economic, social and political life of the community. To buttress and expand protections offered through the legal system, OSI aims to increase the ability of individuals and communities to engage in the formulation and monitoring of public policies that affect the delivery of justice, including policies determining the allocation of public resources. Accordingly, the program helps individuals and communities to develop advocacy and organizing skills as well as legal tools to stimulate debate and to effect systemic and social change, especially relating to issues in which they have a direct stake.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment: Seeking an End to Over-Reliance on Incarceration
Incarceration plays an extraordinary role in creating and maintaining a permanent underclass in the United States, defined largely by race and income. Individuals, generations of families and whole communities have become disenfranchised, legally and politically, to the detriment of society at large. To restore the promise of democracy, OSI seeks to document the causes of over-incarceration in the United States, including discriminatory practices, and the destructive impact of current incarceration policies. The U.S. Justice Fund supports the efforts of diverse groups, especially those directly affected by current policies and practices, to propose and mobilize support for alternatives to incarceration and to irrational sentencing and parole policies.