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#cut50's 2017 National Day of Empathy A Huge Success!

Our network of deeply passionate and hard working partners made a profound impact on state-level reform efforts by bringing hundreds of impacted community members to their state capitols to share stories with lawmakers.

On March 1st, #cut50 partnered with hundreds of Ambassadors of Empathy all across the country to make the national Day of Empathy one of the single largest days of action in criminal justice history!

Our network of deeply passionate and hard working partners made a profound impact on state-level reform efforts by bringing hundreds of impacted community members to their state capitols to share stories with lawmakers.

Nationwide, the Day of Empathy reached:

  • 10,000,000 impressions on social media
  • 250,000 text messages asking people to support state-level justice reforms
  • 4,000 calls to legislators across all states, lasting an average of 3 minutes each
  • Thousands of participants at events in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C.
  • 500+ face-to-face meetings with lawmakers
  • 65 partner organizations
  • 35 in-person events nationwide

To cultivate empathy and empower partners and activists, #cut50 provided content that would help build understanding for the experiences of incarcerated people and victims of crime. Through a partnership with men incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, #cut50 released the first part of an ongoing series of videos entirely conceived, produced, shot, and edited by incarcerated men as part of its San Quentin Media Project

#cut50 also worked with artists Jamie Wong and Jason Hanasik to produce two Virtual Reality experiences. VR allows us to see through someone else's eyes while physically and emotionally experiencing their point of view. Across the country, state legislators stepped into the shoes of two powerful experiences:

Experience #1: Healing Dialogue: Hilda & Nora


Experience #2: The Letter

The Letter VR

Using this content and their own personal stories, #cut50's network of state partners had a massive impact: 

In Arizona, Rebuilding Reentry partnered with the Department of Justice in Arizona to host a reentry simulator, an interactive experience that roleplays different scenarios related to the federal parole and probation process;


In California, hundreds of people showed up to support and advocate on behalf of policies that prioritize healing and justice for victims of violent crime. We hosted a rally featuring State Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee speaking alongside victims of crime, formerly incarcerated people, community members with loved ones in prison, and their allies. The group also sat down for 150 face-to-face meetings with state legislators! Check out the video of the rally here.  


In Connecticut, Governor Dan Malloy introduced key criminal justice reform legislation to mark the day; 


In Georgia, elected officials in Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, made a proclamation to officially recognize March 1st as a national Day of Empathy;

 In Hawaii, the Community Alliance on Prisons hosted a town hall event featuring legislators and impacted individuals;

In Illinois, #cut50 partnered with the Howard Area Community Center and the Parole Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, in association with CSAC to bring individuals impacted by criminal justice system to the State Capitol. 

The group had the pleasure of meeting with and being addressed by many influential members of the Illinois State Legislature, including: Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr., Senator Dale Fowler, Senator Michael E. Hastings, Senator Iris Y. Martinez District, Senator Jim Oberweis, Senator Mattie Hunter, Senator Patricia Van Pelt, and Senator Omar Aquino.

In Kentucky, formerly incarcerated individuals and others impacted by incarceration and crime met with state lawmakers for the first time and released graphics to share their stories;


In Louisiana, the Promise of Justice Initiative hosted an event bringing directly impacted individuals (former and current clients and their families/friends), criminal justice advocates, and state legislators;

In Massachusetts, the State Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing March 1st as a National Day of Empathy and a young man named James Mackey created a short video to share his personal story;



In Mississippi, over 300 social workers rallied for criminal justice legislation that prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment and giving children the resources and services they need to successfully avoid the criminal justice system;

In Oregon, Dave's Killer Bread, the #1 Organic Brand in America, made visits to state lawmakers advocating on behalf of policies that support second chance employment for formerly incarcerated people; 

In Tennessee, Project Return brought formerly incarcerated individuals who face difficulty finding employment to their state capitol. For this group, it was their first time meeting with state lawmakers; 

In Wisconsin, a network of formerly incarcerated leaders met with lawmakers, sharing their stories and struggles of incarceration and returning to their communities following time in prison in an effort to reduce stigma and pass policies that ease collateral consequences that stifle their chances at success.  

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Van Jones co-authored an op-Ed calling for the state legislature to #RaiseTheAge.

We are deeply appreciative to our partners and supporters for making Day of Empathy a huge success. The criminal justice system is broken, but it is not beyond repair.

These were just the some of the incredible acts of the day. We believe that empathy, understanding, and love can build the political will that is so badly needed to rectify the damage caused by the incarceration industry.

Our work keeping the stories of individuals and communities impacted by the criminal justice system at the forefront of our legislative agenda in around the country. We hope that this event empowered individuals to continue using their voice to change the narrative around public safety, incarceration, and reform. 

We will continue to spread the message that crime hurts, but justice should heal. Together, we have a tremendous potential to effect real change in our country, and we are counting on each of you to play an essential role in that change.

In Solidarity,

The #cut50 Team

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