In March 2019, #cut50 co-founder Jessica Jackson was awarded the prestigious Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University. This honor is awarded to legal advocates who leverage their degrees to help alleviate injustice and inequity.
Jessica is a human rights attorney, mother of two, and fearless advocate for social change. Jessica began her career representing men incarcerated in California’s death row, and went on to co-found #cut50 alongside Van Jones and then Dream Corps National Director Matt Haney in 2015 — the same year she was elected Mill Valley Mayor, setting a record as the youngest elected official to serve in Marin County, California.
Jessica saw the US criminal justice system firsthand when her then-husband was incarcerated and sentenced in Georgia, shortly after her first daughter was born. She turned her pain into an unrelenting mission to change the justice system on behalf of other families who had been needlessly torn apart by incarceration. This perspective, coupled with Jessica’s legal background, enabled her to cultivate empathy in unlikely places and work across the aisle with lawmakers to advance major legislative achievements at the state and federal levels.
In 2015, Jessica and #cut50 cohosted a groundbreaking Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Washington DC, calling on Congress to pass urgent changes to the federal criminal justice system. Jessica also worked closely with a bipartisan coalition during the waning months of the Obama Administration to support the President’s historic Clemency Initiative, which resulted in clemency to 1,700+ individuals.
Following the election of Donald Trump, Jessica continued to push for bipartisan reforms — and in 2018 worked closely with leaders in Congress and the White House on the First Step Act. After a year-long campaign, the First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump and will positively impact tens of thousands of people in federal prison and their families. Jessica continues to work closely with Congressional allies and the Administration to ensure the First Step Act is fully funded and quickly implemented.
Jessica and the team at #cut50 are currently partnering with formerly incarcerated women across the country to pass legislation that would help restore dignity in women’s correctional facilities in all 50 states. So far, the Dignity Act has been signed into law in seven states, and is moving through the legislature in five additional states.
With Jessica as our leader, we know that we’re just getting started. Join our movement and be a part of the change.