Dream Corps JUSTICE has spent the last three years building a network of directly impacted advocates and leaders who serve as our eyes, ears and boots on the ground nationwide.
The Empathy Network is currently made up of 300+ grassroots organizations and leaders in 46 states who are committed to sharing their stories and working directly with lawmakers on policy solutions.
We activated the Network to ensure that those who are most impacted by the justice system have a seat at the table and are able to lend their voices and expertise to help develop the policy solutions that will impact their lives, families, and communities. This helps us ensure that the bipartisan reform movement has both a bottom-up and top-down approach, which we believe is key to creating lasting change.
From survivors of violent crime to those who have overcome substance abuse disorder and mental illness; from currently incarcerated individuals to the loved ones on the outside who advocate for their freedom and systemic reforms; from children of incarcerated parents to people on mass supervision to all community members impacted by crime, public safety issues, and violence.
Without empathy, we cannot achieve the meaningful policy changes that keep our communities safe, our families whole, and our economy strong.
There are thousands of people – mothers, fathers, children, and community members – who have stories to tell. The Empathy Network shines a light on people impacted by the criminal justice system in order to uplift and amplify their voices, and win over hearts and minds towards the idea that transformation is possible.
California’s Day of Empathy
The Empathy Network grew out of Dream Corps JUSTICE’s first National Day of Empathy in March of 2017, back when our program was known as #cut50. The Day of Empathy is a day of action to generate empathy on a massive scale for millions of Americans impacted by the criminal justice system. On this day, Americans impacted by the criminal justice system nationwide meet with lawmakers in their state to share their stories and experiences, educate and breed empathy in their state representatives and community members.
Dream Corps JUSTICE built and coordinated a national Empathy Network, originally composed of Day of Empathy partners in all 50 states. As we expand and deepen the Network, we are building digital community spaces for activists and advocates across the country, providing opportunities for training and convening, supporting year-round momentum and engagement, and elevating the profiles of directly impacted leaders within our Network.
The Empathy Network is at the heart of Dream Corps JUSTICE’s state and federal legislative efforts. These special groups throughout the country provide a force on the ground to mobilize impacted individuals and grassroots groups to speak directly to their legislators, sharing their stories and experiences, introducing reforms related to our campaigns, bolstering and advocating for state and federal reforms.
They hold rallies, meet with local officials, conduct phone banking, share their experiences publicly, and distribute information throughout their spheres of influence. They were integral to our effort to pass last year’s federal criminal justice reform policies.
Day of Empathy 2020 Highlights
“Ambassadors of Empathy” from across the country hosted 18 virtual events on the 2020 Day of Empathy. They shared their experiences and how they have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Legislators gained first-hand experience of the human consequences of a criminal justice system that has gotten too big, too unfair, and too brutal.