Deep Center and Southern Center for Human Rights Announce New Grant from the Vera Institute for Justice

Recently, Deep Center, in partnership with The Southern Center for Human Rights, announced a new grant from the Vera Institute of Justice, a national criminal justice nonprofit. The funding will help continue efforts to tackle a range of policy and practice problems, such as wealth-based detention and the excessive use of the juvenile justice system, that are direct drivers of adult and youth incarceration. The two organizations are part of a cohort of grantees supported by Vera’s “In Our Backyards” initiative, a program focused on sustaining grassroots efforts to curb the high and rising use of incarceration in small cities and rural communities.

In a moment of societal reckoning with a justice system in crisis—including deadly COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails and police brutality nationwide, disproportionately against Black people— many continue to view incarceration as a uniquely urban problem. However, smaller cities and rural communities, typically overlooked in national conversations about justice reform and movement work, now have the highest rates of incarceration, continued growth in pretrial detention, and the most severe gender and racial disparities. As the world watches organizers in places like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta build momentum for large-scale transformation of local justice systems, community organizers and local advocates in smaller places are also driving efforts for meaningful decarceration and racial justice.

“Deep Center and Southern Center for Human Rights are committed to educating our community on wealth-based detention practices and the excessive use of the juvenile justice system as direct drivers of adult and youth incarceration, as well as working with elected officials on legislative policies that help our communities, not harm them,” said Coco Papy, Director of Development and Communications at Deep Center. “Georgia has the highest rate of correctional control in the country, and these numbers are even more stark in Chatham County, home to the city of Savannah, which has some of the highest rates of adult and youth court-involvement in Georgia. As we continue to reckon with the very real consequences of white supremacy, of anti-Black racism that shows up in policy and legislation, and of mass incarceration, we are honored to join in, and are committed to, this partnership with Southern Center for Human Rights and the Vera Institute of Justice to ensure a more just and equitable future for all of Savannah.”

“Vera and In Our Backyards know that we won’t end mass incarceration and its footprint without a movement that spans urban and rural communities,” said Jasmine Heiss, Campaign Director for Vera’s In Our Backyards. We are committed to supporting and collaborating with those showing up on the frontlines of justice at a time when their work is urgently needed.”

The In Our Backyards Community Grants are supporting local and statewide organizations launching broad public education campaigns and working with community members, legislators and other stakeholders to tackle a range of policy and practice problems, such as wealth-based detention, racial disparities in enforcement, and the true costs of incarceration for taxpayers and communities.

You can find a list of the other recipients and previously supported projects here: projects/in-our-backyards/ community-grants

Learn more at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.