Who We Are
#cut50 is a national, bipartisan effort to reduce the prison population while making our communities safer.
We find common ground with unlikely allies, draft effective legislation, and mobilize people harmed by the existing system.
Our work combines legislation and humanization, leveraging culture change to drive policy change, and bringing grassroots and grasstops leaders together to push for criminal justice solutions.
Our leaders are changemakers who have been deeply and personally impacted by the criminal justice system. Collectively, we have deep experience championing reforms at the local, state, and federal levels. Our relationships with elected officials, party operatives, grassroots leaders, and influencers cut across geography and political affiliation.
#cut50 was co-founded in 2014 by human rights attorney Jessica Jackson, San Francisco School Board Member (now Supervisor) Matt Haney and CNN host and activist Van Jones. We kickstarted this effort by co-hosting the first-ever Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, which garnered participation from the Obama White House, 13 members of Congress, three Republican Governors and more than 600 leading advocates and formerly incarcerated individuals from across the country.
We later went on to work with a bipartisan coalition of organizations, influencers, and elected leaders in Congress and states across the country to champion reforms that reduce our prison population, restore hope and dignity to incarcerated people, and increase the opportunity for success after prison.
Over the last 30 years, both parties helped lead us down the path to mass incarceration. It will take both political parties to reverse course.
Directly Impacted Advocates at the Forefront
We believe that those who are most harmed by our criminal justice system are uniquely qualified to drive solutions that will begin to transform it.
All of our campaigns are led by people who have been directly impacted by the justice system and have lived through the issues we are trying to address. Under their leadership, we combine Legislation, Humanization, and Innovation to craft and implement criminal justice solutions.
In 2016, we launched the Empathy Network, now the largest bipartisan network of advocates and leaders directly impacted by the justice system. Members of the Empathy Network serve as our eyes, ears, and boots on the ground to champion reforms at the state level and apply in-district pressure on federal lawmakers.
In 2017, we launched our Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign, working with a network of formerly incarcerated women across the country to combat the rapid rise of female incarceration. Leveraging mainstream influencers, political figures, and bipartisan partnerships, the campaign worked across more than a dozen states to champion legislation that ensures women’s basic dignity, health & hygiene needs are met while incarcerated, protects incarcerated women from abuse, and builds infrastructure for long-term efforts aimed at decarceration
In 2018, we successfully helped a bipartisan coalition of advocates and lawmakers craft and pass the First Step Act, which was directly informed by the personal experiences of advocates who had served time in the federal prison system.
In 2019, we named Michael Mendoza as our National Director. Under Michael’s leadership, #cut50 will continue to support and elevate the transformative power of directly impacted individuals to shape the future of the criminal justice reform movement.
Michael has used his personal story and his expertise to pass critical juvenile justice and sentencing reforms, to fight for voting rights for people with felony convictions, and to create new solutions that address growing challenges in parole, probation, and community supervision. Under his leadership, #cut50 will continue its successful track record of historic policy wins.”Van Jones, Dream Corps Board Member
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