A Message from Our Founder

I founded the Corrections Accountability Project in 2017 after recognizing a desperate need in the criminal justice field for an initiative that was wholly dedicated to combating the growing reach of the prison industrial complex.

Equipped with at best a unique concept and a rare skill set, I was welcomed into the Urban Justice Center, an established and respected organization whose underlying projects serve a wide variety of vulnerable communities from sex workers to asylum seekers. There, I found the support and autonomy I needed to experiment and build a powerful, innovative, and lasting organization. It has been an honor to be in community with remarkable advocates doing truly amazing work. Through our infancy, the Urban Justice Center has been our home and thanks to its unwavering support, we are now in a position to stand on our own.

I am incredibly excited to announce we are spinning off and growing into our own new identity as Worth Rises.

As a supporter, you know that our work centers on reversing the commodification of people affected by the criminal legal system and elevating people over profits. You also know that incarcerated parents, siblings, children, and friends, as well as those who may have lost all such relationships, are worth more than the monetary or social value ascribed to them by the profiteers who seek to exploit them and the society that allows it. It’s in defense of that truth, that we must fight not just to end the extraction of resources from incarcerated people and their support networks, but also to return and fortify what’s been taken so that we can be sure that, both financially and socially, their Worth Rises.

I did not fully appreciate how significant the need for this work was until diving in or how much that need would grow over the next two years, but I now feel more committed than ever to the fight to end the exploitation of those touched by the criminal legal system. And recent wins make me optimistic about the potential that our strategy has to bring about transformative change. To this end, we are now working in seven states: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Our advocacy includes efforts to increase prison labor wages and divest pension funds from the prison industry, among others. We are also working on exciting new resources.

We are excited to be entering this next phase of our work and thrilled to have you on this journey with us. Thank you for the support you have extended to date. The ongoing magnitude of our impact depends on our staff who sweat with us, our partners who organize with us, our funders who sustain us, and our supporters who amplify us.

Sincerely,

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Bianca Tylek
Founder & Executive Director

 

The Problem

We have built an industry and economy dependent on human caging and control that capitalizes on crime and prevents justice

The Solution

 

exposing Exploitation

We conduct research, collect data, and perform innovative analyses aimed at unmasking the harms caused by the prison industrial complex. Understanding the mobilizing power of knowledge, we transform our analyses into accessible and compelling content designed to increase awareness and shift discourse around the commercialization of the criminal legal system.

Organizing for change

We organize and lead campaigns that center on protecting and returning resources to directly-impacted communities. We equip consumers, investors, public agents, elected officials, celebrities, litigators, advocates, and the public with the tools needed to challenge those who profit from our nation's carceral crisis. 

Our Impact

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SAN FRANCISCO MAKES JAIL PHONE CALLS FREE AND ELIMINATES JAIL COMMISSARY MARKUPS

June 2019

After months of discussions with Worth Rises and our local partners, Mayor London Breed and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy announced that San Francisco will become the second city in the nation to make all phone calls from jail free and end all markups on jail store items. The Mayor’s budget, released on June 1, reflected her decision to make phone calls free, explaining that “communication between incarcerated people and their loved ones can increase safety within jails, decrease recidivism, and improve reentry outcomes.”

This is another historic victory for prison phone justice and criminal justice advocacy. Annually, people in San Francisco’s jails and their support networks spend more than $1.1 million on phone calls to stay connected, roughly $600,000 of which the city collects in commissions, and another $644,000 in markups on commissary products pocketed by the city. But the end is in sight, and families will soon feel relief.

 
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FCC denies SECURUS AND ICSOLUTIONS MERGER APPLICATION

April 2019

We won a major victory in the battle for prison phone justice when the FCC denied industry behemoth Securus’ acquisition of ICSolutions and the company pulled out of its purchase agreement. This transaction would have further consolidated the prison telecom industry and given Securus unprecedented control, hurting competition and, in turn, public interest. Had the deal been successful, Securus would have become the nation’s largest prison telecom provider, and grown the market share of the industry’s duopoly to roughly 90%.

This was a David-and-Goliath-type victory against a massive prison profiteer. It’s impossible to overstate the impact that the merger would have had on incarcerated people and their loved ones if it had succeeded. Securus would have wielded its power to further increase call rates—a cost that would have been borne disproportionately by women in communities of color and poverty. Read the full story here.

 
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Mecklenburg County Jail reintroduces visits, provides free video calls, and makes phone calls free for kids

February/March 2019

At the request of the newly-elected Sheriff Garry McFadden, we have guided the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office on its visit and telecommunications strategy to increase community contact for those incarcerated at the Mecklenburg County Jail. With the help of our engagement, the county has reintroduced in-person visits after more than two years, negotiated for the provision of one free video call per week, and made phones calls entirely free for children incarcerated at the jail. We continue to work with the sheriff’s office to improve visit and telecommunication services.


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Boston moves $150M into socially responsible investments and $100M into community banks

February 2019

In September 2018, we brought together over 40 local and national advocacy organizations, faith communities, university groups, and investment firms to launch a coordinated prison divestment campaign in Greater Boston. After months in discussion, we moved the Boston City Council to hold a hearing on the city’s investment guidelines. Under pressure, in February 2019, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a new investment policy for the city’s cash investments that includes moving $150 million into socially responsible investments and $100 million into community banks. Additionally, as part of the campaign, three socially responsible investments firms have formalized investment policies that filter for private prison companies and student groups at three universities have announced formal divestment campaigns on their campuses.


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New York City becomes first city to Make Phone Calls from City Jails Free

July/August 2018

We built a coalition of criminal justice organizations in New York City aimed at challenging the city’s use of its criminal legal system as a revenue source. On July 28th, we successfully moved the City Council to pass legislation that made NYC the only jurisdiction in the country where calls from city jails are free. Three weeks later, on August 6th, Mayor DeBlasio signed the bill into law. Intro 741 will save directly impacted communities roughly $10 million annually and open lines of communications for those who could not previously afford calls. On May 1, 2019, phone calls out of New York’s city jails finally became free, and overnight, calls volume went up 38%.

Coverage of our victory in New York City led to free phone calls for detained juveniles in Shelby County, Tennessee by November 2018. And since then, efforts have also been initiated with elected officials and advocates in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Texas to make phone calls free.


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New York State Rescinds Restrictive and costly Care Package Policy

January 2018

We partnered with allied organizations to launch the Packaging Love campaign, which forced Governor Cuomo to suspend a pilot that restricted families and friends to a handful of for-profit vendors to send packages to their incarcerated loved ones in New York State prisons. Thanks to the success of our campaign, we were able to protect the support networks of the more than 47,600 incarcerated people from the exploitative prices these vendors charge, saving directly impacted communities across the state millions annually. Equally as important, the campaign protected their ability to convey love through personalized gifts. Critically, throughout the campaign, we worked closely with incarcerated people; The New Yorker captured just one of those moments.

Our Team

Bianca Tylek
Executive Director

 

Dana Rasso
Director of Content
& Communications

 
 

Luke Noel
Program ASSOCIATE