My name is Arianna Vazquez, and I am a recent graduate of the Missouri State University political science program. My interest in direct service, policy work, and social justice led her Oakland, CA in hopes of gaining experience in advocacy. My passion for ending the PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) stems from personal experience in how prisons can destroy lives. So, the internship at Justice Now seemed like a perfect fit.
Justice Now is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to ending gendered violence in prisons, and to one day, abolition the prison system as we know it in favor of a more humane system focused on rehabilitation and deconstructing power. Justice Now does both policy work and direct service advocacy work. On the policy front, Justice Now works to advocate stating leaders in California for prison reform and humane conditions for prisoners. Sometimes this takes the form of writing to the legislature and organizing opposition; sometimes it takes the form of legal advocacy, like submitting amicus briefs. Justice Now’s main work, though, is in direct services to people inside of California state prisons This usually means receiving letters from people on the inside with general requests. These requests typically include researching legal questions, and often the goal is to help line-up certain social services and resources for people inside when they eventually get out of prison. It also includes helping coordinate certain educational opportunities for people on the inside, such as connecting community groups on the outside with people in prison that would be interested in receiving those services.
While at Justice Now, I found myself most passionate about advocating for transgender individuals inside.One of my favorite parts of the work I did was responding to letters, because it felt very impactful. I will not try and summarize all that I gained in my experience at Justice Now because it is honestly too much to put into words.