During Gina Clayton’s first year of law school, a loved one was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The turmoil and stigma she felt was isolating. While working for women losing their homes due to loved ones’ criminal matters, Gina repeatedly saw the same stigma she felt.
Gina realized in the history of progressive social change, women have played a critical role in moving the needle on stubborn social issues. That’s where the idea came to build Essie Justice Group.
The Essie Justice Group is building a powerful community of women who have incarcerated loved ones. Millions of women affected by mass incarceration are leaders in their families, navigating complex systems to keep their families going forward despite monumental challenges. With peer-to-peer support, taking on campaigns and activism, and a national network of women leaders, Essie’s model is bringing together hundreds of thousands of women to break isolation, increase resources to families, and confront mass incarceration’s harm. In 2017, Essie Justice Group took on the California bail system, which places a heavy burden on women affected by mass incarceration. In 2018, after prompting from Essie Justice Group, Google banned ads for bail bond services from its platform. Gina is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow.