JustLeadershipUSA was founded three years ago by Glenn E. Martin, who spent six years locked up in New York in the 1990s. The organization trains ex-inmates to lead its efforts to reduce the nation’s prison population by half.
Forbes profiles Glenn E. Martin and the organization he leads, JustLeadershipUSA, a New York-based nonprofit that trains ex-convicts to lead criminal justice reform in their own communities. Martin, a longtime reform advocate and former inmate, founded the organization in 2014. JustLeadershipUSA seeks to cut the nation’s prison population in half by 2030. In 2016, Martin led the charge to close the jail complex on Rikers Island in New York. Martin, raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was incarcerated at 22 and spent six years in prison, one of them at Rikers.
Now 46, Martin’s approach to leadership is disrupting the criminal justice reform community. He believes that the leaders of the reform movement should be people who have been in the prison system. After prison, Martin worked on legislative reform initiatives but grew frustrated with the slow pace of change. “I wanted the response to be bolder,” he says. He founded JustLeadership to engage those who best understand the issues of incarceration–the men and women who have been there. Martin wanted to give those citizens the skills to be movers and shakers in their local reform communities. “In every other movement, the people who are oppressed are at the forefront in leadership,” he explains. In its third year, JustLeadership has a staff of 20 and a $7.5 million budget for 2018–2019.