We’re so excited to introduce OJPC’s newest project, Beyond Guilt.
If you’re a friend of OJPC, you’ve likely heard us call ourselves “the Guilty Project” on occasion. We are finally making that sentiment official, by launching a project that will seek to free people who admit guilt, are serving long sentences, have rehabilitated themselves and are ready to rejoin society.
It’s our hope that this project will complement Innocence Projects and the like around the country — which do incredibly important and difficult work on behalf of people who are wrongfully convicted. However, it’s our belief that mass incarceration will never be solved until we see the human worth of all prisoners, regardless of innocence or guilt.
Beyond Guilt will also lift up the voices of the people it frees to enable them to advocate for meaningful sentencing reform. Wherever possible, Beyond Guilt will partner with prosecutors, crime survivors and lawmakers to address the over-punishment of people who commit serious crimes.
After securing their clients’ release, Beyond Guilt will arrange for them to be mentored and connected to services to smooth their return to the community.
The idea for this project came from David Singleton, Executive Director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center.
“Beyond Guilt is one answer to criminal legal system reform efforts that focus narrowly on a more palatable side of the reform movement—freeing innocent prisoners and people convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses at the expense of individuals convicted of more serious offenses, including violent crimes,” Singleton said.
Singleton vetted and refined the idea for the project after conversations with national criminal justice reform leaders, scholars, authors, attorneys, Innocence Network personnel, bipartisan lawmakers, law enforcement and more.