Criminal Justice

Grassroots Leadership was founded in 1980 to build on the gains of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. At the same time, criminal justice policies — particularly those borne out of the War on Drugs — dramatically increased the number of people incarcerated in the United States, devastating communities of color.  The birth of Corrections Corporation of America in 1983 marked the emergence of the modern for-profit private prison industry.  

Privatization of public resources, including privatization of prisons, threatens to roll back the advances made by the civil rights and labor movements.  Prison privatization is particularly insidious because it relies on putting an ever-increasing number of people behind bars.  

Grassroots Leadership put itself on the front line of the fight against for-profit incarceration by organizing with community, faith, human and civil rights, criminal justice reform, and labor organizations.  Together, we have stopped new private prison contracts, shut down private prisons in states across the country, and exposed the heinousness of the private prison industry.  The truth is that  for-profit incarceration has no place in a democratic society.  

Today, we find ourselves in a moment in which there is widespread scrutiny of our country’s mass incarceration crisis.  We continue to pursue campaigns and initiatives aimed at dismantling the private prison industry.  This is our contribution to a larger movement seeking to end our country’s reliance on criminalization.  We believe that the profit motive in incarceration is counter to the very purpose of a correctional system.

We believe that people who have been directly affected by incarceration, together with their families, should lead the movement for change in Texas. That’s why we offer intensive community organizing trainings, designed to build on the expertise, experience, and powerful commitment of our members. Graduates of our training become members of our action network where we put our training into practice and advance our mission to end the criminalization of our communities.