Through awareness, education, advocacy, and litigation, the Fair Fight Initiative empowers, legally defends, and protects those directly affected by our broken criminal legal system with a vision to end mass incarceration and the systemic racism that drives America’s addiction to jails and prisons.
The Fair Fight Initiative began with a tragedy. But from that tragedy was born hope, and a steadfast determination to create a fairer, more equitable world.
Lamar Johnson was on his way to pick up his grandmother from a dialysis treatment when he was stopped by police for a minor traffic infraction. What should have been a simple fine instead led to a loving father of a little girl being unjustly incarcerated. In a more equitable world, he would have been issued a ticket. Instead, Lamar Johnson’s little girl was left without a father when he was found dead in his jail cell days later.
Lamar’s mother, Linda Franks, was devastated, but determined to find out how such a simple brush with the law had resulted in her son’s death. Finding herself stonewalled by officials from the jail, the police department and the government, she rallied her community and her family to dig deeper. Their combined support allowed Linda to hire the best attorneys in the country and begin waging her war in the courtroom.
It took several years and a litany of court battles, but eventually Linda was able to find some measure of justice for her own family. But she realized the greater fight lie ahead. There were more stories like hers, more families torn apart by the inequities built into our criminal legal system. Having experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to find justice, she vowed to help others like her. Attorneys David Utter and Will Claiborne, who had both come to Linda’s aid in seeking justice for Lamar, shared her vision.
They realized that together they could advance the cause of criminal legal reform. They could shine a light on the corruption, systemic racism and inequality in the criminal legal system to open people’s eyes to the world around them. Through crowdfunding, they could expand legal services to give people a way to reclaim their rights under the law.
The death of Lamar Johnson was a tragedy. But through the Fair Fight Initiative, people like you can ensure fewer stories end like his.
“My son died because of our broken system of justice that could have been prevented. My son Lamar was stopped for a traffic ticket and ended up dead four days later in jail. Fair Fight was born because I don’t want this to ever happen to another mother or family again.”
– Linda Franks (Executive Director of The Fair Fight Initiative)
Sadly, the heartbreaking story of Lamar Johnson is not an uncommon one. Time and time again, we see the inherent injustice wrought by the United States criminal legal system. The murder of George Floyd and the grotesque actions of the Glynn County Police Department following the murder of Ahmaud Arbery are but the tip of an iceberg of systemic racism and policing that targets Black people, especially men, and terrorizes and destroys lives.
Even beyond these incidents, we see how systemic racism underpins every aspect of criminal law. Wildly different arrest rates and sentences that jump sharply along racial lines, a bail bond system designed to grant greater freedoms to the wealthy and to ensure the poorest among us stay behind bars. They’re all symptoms of a white supremacist structure that spends over $295 billion a year on police, courts, jails, prisons, probation, and parole, to maintain the status quo.
Every day, marginalized people in America find themselves crushed in the gears of this machine. Families are torn apart, lives are ruined and entire communities are held down in order to maintain white hegemony. We say we are a nation of liberty, but clearly limit this blessing to the wealthy and white. We as Americans pride ourselves on our freedom. But too many turn a blind eye to the criminal deprivation of basic human rights that so many of us face. The Fair Fight Initiative exists to bring attention to these corrupt social structures. We can’t afford to lose any more children to this system, and we can’t let people turn a blind eye anymore.
What We Do
Taking on a systemically racist and corrupt system is no small matter, and The Fair Fight Initiative has identified three main strategies to ensure greater justice for all.
The first is through awareness and education. We learned long ago that no one can do this alone, and so we strive to open the public’s eyes to the inequities all around them. Systemic racism is, by definition, difficult for many to spot just because it’s been such a huge part of the backdrop of America for so long. We illustrate the issues people might not readily perceive through reports, white papers, videos, discussion guides and other educational materials. Getting people to realize the work that needs doing is the first, perhaps most vital, step to spurring them onto action.
The second way we take on this corrupt system is through advocacy, working alongside the better angels inside and outside the system to find a way forward with a mission to end mass incarceration and replace it with common sense, anti-racist systems and accelerate criminal legal reform.
Third, we empower and help mount legal defenses for those who have been impacted by the tragic inequities of our criminal legal system. We fight alongside them in the courtrooms to achieve true justice and freedom.
We achieve these goals as a 501(c)(3) through crowdfunding, relying on our supporters for one-time or recurring tax-deductible donations. These contributions not only help us provide legal aid to those in need, it gives us a powerful voice in our national conversation, helping us make meaningful changes to our broken system.
Your Donations To The Fair Fight Initiative Go Towards:
Legally defending and protecting people threatened by America’s systemically racist and broken legal systems. This includes mistreatment, neglect, and abuse, which includes representing families who have lost loved ones in custody or jail.
Aggressively advocating and accelerating criminal justice and public safety reform in America and preserving constitutional rights for all people.
Bringing awareness to the public about our broken systems of justice and the systemic practices that keep our country from moving away from mass incarceration.
Educating, empowering, and forming alliances with communities across the country from all walks of life and political preferences to collectively make certain that all law enforcement, government officials, and institutions are held accountable and all people are treated with fairness, dignity, and equality.
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