We are a 501(c)(3) charity and all donations are tax deductible


Who Will Fix Our Broken System?

Do you find it difficult to know where you can improve our broken criminal justice system? Fortunately there are many ways to get involved to improve reentry success and greatly reduce recidivism.  Can you teach a class?  Perhaps you could organize a book drive to send books to prisoners?  Maybe you could lend some time to building the Fair Shake resource directory which is seen and used (in offline formats) in prisons all around the country?  We need to think about the kind of citizens we wish to have in our communities and deeply consider what our prison system is doing to promote active citizenship.

The time for hoping that an elected, appointed or corporate hero will swoop in and fix the system is over. We’ve heard – for more than 40 years – about the programs, the plans, the employment and the behavioral interventions that the government, business leaders or other organizations will while, in 2014, we learned that more than 76.6% of the people who came home from prison were rearrested within 5 years. It’s not that nothing works, it’s that what they are doing doesn’t work.  The same way that it doesn’t work in our nation’s schools.

LSCI allenwood

This system is not working for anyone except those who benefit from it. When will we stop this madness?  Who benefits?  Not just the private prisons, that’s for sure. We can do better than this, but we need to ask hard, honest questions. We need ‘all hands on deck’ to turn this old ship around.


Fair Shake is my answer.  What is yours?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Reaching Out | Reaching In

Community Building From Inside.

Just because our citizens are out of our sight does not mean they are disconnected. Some ambitious people find ways to stay quite connected to us to provide a glimpse of the prisons and the preparation for release from them that we are all responsible for.

Check out the following pages to learn more about our returning citizens:

Incarcerated Authors LifeWithARecord

Bloggers Behind Bars 

Reentry Programs

Learn more about our Criminal Justice System

According to a 2014 report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics about two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three- quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years.

Within 5 years of release, 82.1% of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 76.9% of drug offenders, 73.6% of public order offenders, and 71.3% of violent offenders.

More than a third (36.8%) of all prisoners who were arrested within 5 years of release were arrested within the first 6 months after release, with more than half (56.7%) arrested by the end of the first year.

Consider as many dimensions of the  system as you can:

Center for NuLeadership: Transforming the practice of public safety, justice and accountability from criminal to human.


PEW report Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect

Some pages we’ve created: Media,Facts,Statistics and Links

(more to come soon!)

Things you can do where you are, right now:

Support the Ban The Box movement! 

NELP staff introduced the Fair Chance – Ban the Box toolkit to help advocates launch their own fair chance, “ban the box” campaigns locally. Check out the new, comprehensive toolkit at https://www.nelp.org/publication/the-fair-chance-ban-the-box-toolkit/.

You’ll find NELP’s Fair Chance Factsheet,Best Practices and Model Policies,Research Summary, City and County Guide, the latest State Guide, and many other resources

To find out more visit our Ban the Box page!

Fair Shake applauds these states for banning the box in the private sector:





and Washington D.C.




Rhode Island




New Jersey





Send books!

 Send individual books or hold a book drive!


heroHeroic Imagination Project  (http://heroicimagination.org/)

The Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) provides knowledge, tools, strategies, and exercises to individuals and groups to help them to overcome the social and psychological forces which can keep them from taking effective action at crucial moments in their lives.

Learn how to Build Community Assets!

The Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) and its affiliated faculty have created a library of community building workbooks, published scholarly articles, books, and chapters oriented to an array of audiences. Community assets are key building blocks in sustainable urban and rural community revitalization efforts. These community assets include:

  • The skills of local residents
  • The power of local associations
  • The local history and culture of a neighborhood
  • Public, private and non-profit resources
  • Physical space and infrastructure
  • Economic resources and local potential

ABCD toolkit: http://www.abcdinstitute.org/toolkit/


ABCD resources: http://www.abcdinstitute.org/resources/

Citizen Schools


There is a critical gap in education. But it isn’t an “achievement gap” as the media often describes it. It’s an opportunity gap. We can close this gap, and help these three million students discover and achieve their dreams, by connecting students who want to learn and adults who have something to teach…families with big dreams and volunteers with big hearts…visionary school leaders and a non-profit with a proven model…citizens and schools.

Here’s more great stuff from Dr. Philip Zimbardo of the Lucifer Effect and the Stanford Prison Experiment

Prisoner Visitation and Support


Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS) is the only organization authorized by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense to visit any prisoner in the Federal and Military prison systems. The primary focus is on seeing those prisoners with an acute need for human contact — those prisoners without regular visits, those serving long sentences who are far from home, those in solitary confinement and on death row, and those who are frequently transferred from prison to prison.

In addition to making monthly visits, our visitors also have the opportunity to connect with one another through their correspondence with our national office, meeting with other visitors in their geographical area, as well as participating in our annual training conferences. Through this interaction, visitors support one another, share experiences, and offer guidance.



Ubuntu philosophy

Ubuntu: a southern African (sub-Saharan) philosophy which means “I am who I am because of who we all are.”   We learned how to be a person through others…everyone is our teacher and has shaped who we are today.

Desmond Tutu on Ubuntu: “There is no such thing as a solitary individual. A person is a person through other persons.”

An Ubuntu Lesson:

There was an anthropologist who had been studying the habits and culture of a remote African tribe.

He had been working in the village for quite some time and the day before he was to return home, he put together a gift basket filled with delicious fruits from around the region and wrapped it in a ribbon. He placed the basket under a tree and then he gathered up the children in the village.

The man drew a line in the dirt, looked at the children, and said, “When I tell you to start, run to the tree and whoever gets there first will win the basket of the fruit.”

When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together to the tree. Then they sat together around the basket and enjoyed their treat as a group.

The anthropologist was shocked. He asked “Why did you all go together when one of you could have won all the fruits for yourself?”

A young girl looked up at him and said, “How can one of us be happy if the others are sad?”

Desmond Tutu again: “Africans have a thing called ubuntu. We believe that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”