MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Equal Justice Initiative, a dynamic human rights organization that provides representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in America's legal system, today announced the largest ever gift for its core criminal justice work. The $1 million gift from the Lavine Family's Crimson Lion Foundation is one of the largest donations in the organization's 27-year history, and will propel Equal Justice Initiative's pioneering work to eliminate wrongful convictions and excessive punishment in America.
"After reading Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy, my wife Jeannie and I were inspired by his efforts to fight injustice and were moved to reach out to support this important cause in an impactful way," said Jonathan Lavine, who is Co-Managing Partner of Bain Capital, a global private investment firm. "Equal Justice Initiative is working hard every day to help those who don't have the resources to combat injustice, and we're proud to help advance this important work."
"We need to support leaders like Bryan and organizations like Equal Justice Initiative if we're going to make meaningful progress in addressing the large numbers of wrongful incarcerations in the U.S.," added Jeannie Lavine. "We hope our gift will encourage many others to support this worthy cause."
Stevenson and the staff at Equal Justice Initiative recently won an historic Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional, and have won reversals, relief or release for over 115 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. Stevenson's book and 2012 TED Talk has inspired many people to get involved in this national effort to confront systemic injustice, and to help bring much needed attention to the plight of poor and condemned prisoners and other people whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.
"Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine have stepped up and are taking a courageous role in helping us accomplish meaningful criminal justice reform," said Stevenson, who founded the organization in 1989 and serves as Executive Director. "Our greatest hope is their action, on behalf of the many wrongfully imprisoned individuals in our country, will spur others to provide much-needed support for this cause. We thank them for their willingness to engage with difficult issues and for their generosity."
Individuals and organizations interested in donating to Equal Justice Initiative should visit www.eji.org or contact Andrea Martin at 334-269-1803 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be mailed to Equal Justice Institute, 122 Commerce Street, Montgomery, AL 36104.
The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with more than 2.3 million people in its jails and prisons. Last year, 149 people were exonerated after being wrongfully incarcerated for, on average, more than 14 years, setting a new record for the number of exonerations in a single year.
About Equal Justice Initiative
Equal Justice Initiative (http://www.eji.org/) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, Equal Justice Initiative litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. The organization works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment, and also prepares reports, newsletters, and manuals to assist advocates and policymakers in the critically important work of reforming the administration of criminal justice.
About the Crimson Lion Foundation
Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine formed the Crimson Lion Foundation, a private family foundation based in Boston through which they concentrate their philanthropic activities, in 2007. They have been longtime supporters of many local and national organizations fighting for social justice and supporting community service. The Crimson Lion Foundation funded the Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University to train the next generation of humanitarian leaders, and has been a long-time supporter of City Year, where Jonathan Lavine currently serves as Chair of the National Board of Trustees. He also currently serves as a vice chair on the Board of Trustees of Columbia University. Mr. Lavine has received the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Community Service Award, and the Champion of the American Dream Award from Opportunity Nation.
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SOURCE Equal Justice Initiative