ABOLITIONIST LAW CENTER

Pittsburgh, PA   |  http://abolitionistlawcenter.org

Mission

The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm and community organizing project organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States. ALC engages in class action litigation on behalf of people whose human rights have been violated in jail and prison, produces educational programs to inform the general public about the harms of policing and mass incarceration, and works to develop a mass movement against the injustices of the American penal system by building alliances and nurturing solidarity across social divisions.

Ruling year info

2013

Executive Director

Robert Holbrook

Legal Director

Bret Grote

Main address

201 N. Braddock Ave., Rm. 613

Pittsburgh, PA 15221 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

46-2132412

NTEE code info

Public Interest Law/Litigation (I83)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

This profile needs more info.

If it is your nonprofit, add a problem overview.

Login and update

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Ending Solitary Confinement

Working to end the abusive use of solitary confinement in Pennylvania and the United States.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
Victims and oppressed people

Health care and a healthy environment is a human right for prisoners and non-prisoners alike. Inadequate or non-existent mental health and medical care inside of prisons is a systemic problem that has impacts beyond the walls of the prison.

Prisoners are vulnerable to other health risks as well. Economically depressed towns are frequently sites for toxic industries and prisons. This puts prisoners at an increased risk of harmful health impacts from polluted air and water.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
People with diseases and illnesses

In addition to being places of punishment where prisoners are removed from their families and communities, prisons are also sites of ideological control. Prisoners live under 24-hour surveillance, and their conversation, communication, and reading materials are constantly scrutinized and frequently censored. As a counter to this totalitarian system that attempts to deny the rights of prisoners to intellectual freedom and political dissent, the Abolitionist Law Center works with prisoners and organizations that understand the importance of personal transformation, political knowledge, and social uplift in the struggle against the prison-industrial complex.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
Activists

Working to free prisoners through re-sentencing, habeas corpus petitions, parole petitions, and campaigns for clemency.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
Adolescents

Trained Court Watch volunteers observe, document, and report on proceedings in Allegheny County, PA Criminal Courts, bringing to light abusive and discriminatory practices by court officials, and advocating for supportive resources for court-involved individuals.

Population(s) Served

Litigation, public advocacy and pressure campaigns, and community organizing aimed at ending Death by Incarceration (life without the possibility of parole) and other long-term and excessive sentencing, including mandatory minimums

Population(s) Served
Detainees
Offenders
Wrongfully incarcerated people
Detainees
Offenders
Wrongfully incarcerated people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

2018 Goals

• Successfully advancing our litigation on solitary confinement (Palakovic v. Wetzel), and filing additional cases challenging abusive solitary confinement.

• Successfully advancing litigation challenging PADOC policy changes restricting mail and reading materials for prisoners.

• Publishing report on Death By Incarceration sentences in Pennsylvania.

• Successfully conducting resentencing hearings to win the release from prison of juvenile lifers, and obtaining court rulings that apply Miller v. Alabama to people who were older than 18 years when the crime they were convicted of occurred.

We use a movement lawyering strategy in organizing and prioritizing our work. This means that our work must be linked to grassroots organizing by people who are directly impacted by the harms being challenged. Our work is meant to support these communities by amplifying their voices and providing effective advocacy in the courts and prisons of Pennsylvania.

We are able to assist in organizing groups concerned with prison justice, file lawsuits to protect and vindicate the rights of prisoners and their supporters, research and publish human rights reports on prison conditions and police abuses, provide legal observer and know your rights trainings, and give presentations to the public on mass incarceration and others issues that intersect with mass incarceration.

We won our lawsuit in Abu-Jamal v. Kane, with a ruling that a Pennsylvania statute aimed at silencing prisoners was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Our work was successful in helping to win the release of Russell Maroon Shoatz from his 22nd consecutive year of solitary confinement, providing a tangible benefit to him and his family. We recently won the release of Arthur Johnson from his 36th consecutive year in solitary confinement. Our work has also been successful at gaining press attention for issues like polluted prisons, the abusive use of solitary confinement on the mentally ill, the dangerous lack of healthcare in prisons and jails, the arbitrary censoring of prisoner speech, and the extreme use of Death By Incarceration sentencing in Pennsylvan. We have assisted with the development of several new organizations, such as the Amistad Law Project and the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, and we continue to support organizations like the Human Rights Coalition.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Incarcerated and criminal legal system-involved individuals and their loved ones and supporters.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email, personal meetings,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

ABOLITIONIST LAW CENTER
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

ABOLITIONIST LAW CENTER

Board of directors
as of 5/17/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jamelia Morgan

University of California Irvine School of Law

Jules Lobel

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Jasmine Gonzales-Rose

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Lisa Freeland

Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Jihad Abdulmumit

National Jericho Movement

Carl Redwood, Jr.

Hill District Consensus Group

Kempis Songster

Amistad Law Project

Jamelia Morgan

University of California School of Law

Anita Colon

Pennsylvania Prison Society

Rukia Lumumba

JXN People's Assembly

Ashley Jimenez

Center for Hope

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/17/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/17/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.