Today, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Contrary to many people’s assumption, most of the people in prison have not committed serious crimes and the increase in incarceration rates are not a result of an increase in crime rates. Although many people believe that representing clients and fighting criminal justice falls on the public defenders office, nonprofit organizations play a vital role in the field of criminal justice because they are independent from the government compared to public defenders offices.
Criminal justice experts were also asked to recommend nonprofits that are making an impact on a local/state level in the criminal justice research, because the work in the criminal justice field varied according to states' laws. Experts were asked to recommend nonprofits that work on solving issues across the entire time spectrum: before conviction, serving time, and re-entry. They were asked to consider different types of nonprofits, including legal defense organizations, service providers, research groups, advocacy groups, community organizing groups, membership groups, organizations that provide education and public outreach, technical assistance providers, and communications strategy organizations.
Philanthropedia surveyed 127 experts working in criminal justice (with an average of 16 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest positive impact in the field. Philanthropedia’s experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, veterinaries, etc.) identified 21 top nonprofits (out of 144 total reviewed nonprofits) making an impact at the local level.
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