A new toolkit for advocates working to end mass incarceration

In the toolkit, we share tips and lessons we’ve learned over two decades of using data, visuals, and narratives to expose the harms of mass incarceration.

by Mike Wessler, March 2, 2022

Today, we’re launching our new Advocacy Toolkit, a collection of guides and training materials that advocates can use to strengthen their campaigns to end mass incarceration. The toolkit builds on lessons we’ve learned from our two decades of work to improve our criminal legal system. It provides skills-based guides on accessing public records, securing and organizing data, crafting persuasive narratives, and creating impactful visuals. It also includes issue-based guides on protecting in-person visits in prisons and jails, opposing jail expansion, and ending prison gerrymandering. We plan to add additional resources in the future.

Our new advocacy department created this toolkit as part of our expanded effort to support the people and groups on the ground doing the hard work to end mass incarceration.

While most advocacy departments organize campaigns, mobilize volunteers, and pressure decision-makers for change, ours is a bit different. We’re not looking to replicate the amazing work that thousands of people and hundreds of organizations are already doing to reform the criminal legal system. Instead, as a research organization known for using data visualizations and easy-to-understand narratives, our advocacy work aims to help these organizations leverage our expertise to strengthen their campaigns. That’s why our advocacy department will focus on:

  • connecting state and local movement partners and decision-makers to data that can fuel their campaigns for criminal justice reform;
  • identifying and filling gaps where new research would support reform efforts;
  • producing training materials, like the Advocacy Toolkit, for use by criminal justice reform advocates; and
  • providing technical assistance, including identifying reform opportunities (such as our annual list of winnable state criminal justice reforms), giving messaging support, offering expert review of documents and legislation, and connecting partners working in similar spaces.

We hope these new resources will help to strengthen the movement to end mass incarceration. If you use the Toolkit in your work, tell us about it. Let us know what worked, what didn’t, and what other resources we can provide. And, if you’re an organization seeking assistance from our new advocacy department, drop us a line to let us know how we can help.

3 responses:

  1. Pamela Reeves-Mochorwa says:

    I have vast experience working as an advocate against the punitive sanctions that lead to mass incarceration and recidivism. As a doctorial student in criminal justice and criminology, I hope to use my platform to expose the plight of offenders within the criminal system; and the price that citizens continue to pay once these offenders populations, with increased anger, mental illness and other issues are released onto the public. There needs to be real rehabilitation, and effective treatment programs during incarceration than after release. Currently. I am working to build a non-profit which will work to assist ex-offenders, juveniles and communities; and to advocate for policy changes that will help ex-offenders that have completed their sentences, prepare to become contributing, tax-paying citizen of the United States.

  2. Paula Carroll says:


    It’s violating the Brady and Michael Morton act. It’s withholding the very evidence that was used against the person. It also allows prosecutors to get away with using HEARSAY and not actual evidence.

  3. Randy Cowan says:

    Paula! You are so right, most citizens in this Country don’t even know that this is a common practice in the Federal Justisce system. 2 people arrested for drugs. Sit them in a room and force them to plead guilty by telling them they will receive decades in Prison because they will be found guilty in prison. By pleading guilty they have to tell them every single person they ever saw WITH drugs and they better embellish or they will not be happy. Add up these “ghost” amounts and pull those people in, rinse and repeat.
    In this Country we procecute people without eveifdence, only WORDS and they end up spending decades in prison after thinking they are receiving 5 years (which is devastating enough) because then the justice system, after violating their rights, decides to do it again and slap them with enhancements. Live in a house? Oh, you were maintaining a residence, here’s another 5 years. etc etc. This so called Justice system violates Americans rights every single day. Don’t believe it? Here’s just one “conspiracy and it’s outcome with just a few people because there are 100’s in the Northern Texas area, were it is a epidemic, thanks to Mandatory Minimums and Judges who don’t ask themselves…”If this person dealt 10 kilos in one year, where are their cars, jewelry, real estate? These people are poor and are preyed upon by prosecutors and investigators looking for a promotion or raise, it’s disgusting!

    Melissa Veatch No evidence but the words of someone looking for a lighter sentence (since released). -33 Years
    Holly Frantzen- No evidence but words – 16 years
    Kendra Ward -No evidence but words -16 years
    These are just a couple of people. Most casual drug users. This has ruined children’s lives and Families, never mind their own lives. Are you next? Do you know anyone who does drugs?

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