Foundation for the Mid South Sponsors Expansion of Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

FMS collaboration with Mississippi Justice Fund to boost neighborhood violence prevention and link criminal justice reforms to economic development.

A virtual panel featuring Mississippi’s top reform advocates highlighted the members of The Fund and delved into report on the economic costs.

Jackson, MS – Alongside partners the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Public Welfare Foundation, Just Trust, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and, the Foundation for the Mid South announces the expansion of the Mississippi Justice Fund, a groundbreaking project to stand up Mississippi’s justice reform movement. 

By partnering with the Mississippi Justice Fund (MJF), FMS aims to strengthen the efforts of grassroots groups successfully engaged in neighborhood violence prevention, disrupting the evolving door of incarceration and linking changes in the criminal system to Mississippi’s economic development.

“Justice reform is a win for public safety and a win for economic growth,” said Greg Johnson, CEO and President of the Foundation for the Mid South. “Our role in joining Mississippi Justice Funders underscores our belief in the power of people on-the-ground to be real change agents in alleviating the conditions that feed the school-to-prison pipeline and stymy billions from entering Mississippi’s economy.”

Mississippi’s economy currently hemorrhages more than $3 billion annually due to conviction rates criminalizing a third of Mississippi workers, estimates. The number of people held in jails and prisons continues to climb, driven in part by a steady stream of new felony convictions from local courts. These convictions create life-long restraints on employment, earnings, food security and mental health. In Mississippi, it is estimated that one in every 13 residents has a felony conviction on their record.

The Fund was created in 2021 in recognition that justice policy fails to address the root drivers of crime and criminalization. Top reform advocates say the state’s best solutions go unsupported and educating supporters to the education, health and public safety implications of criminal justice reforms represents a key vehicle for impact.

“The Mississippi Justice Fund is a testament to what we can achieve when we unite for a common purpose. This initiative is not just about reform; it’s about transforming how justice is perceived and administered in Mississippi,” said Waikinya Clanton, Director for Mississippi Southern Poverty Law Center.

In honor of the partnership, the Foundation hosted a virtual discussion with some of the state’s top criminal justice reform advocates. Mississippi Unchained: Galvanizing Around Justice Reform’s $3 Billion Economic Promise was inspired by a report on the economic burdens of failed criminal justice polices.

“Our vision for the MJF is clear—create sustainable change by supporting local organizations that know their communities best. This collaborative effort is essential as we support organizations pushing for reforms and real-life impact that truly reflects the needs and rights of all Mississippians,” Alicia Netterville, Fund Coordinator for Mississippi Justice Fund. “As we grow initiative, we are energized by the potential to help community-based organizations and reform advocates in Mississippi address the implications of failed criminal justice policies.”

In its inaugural year, the Fund raised approximately $1.2 million. Mississippi Justice Funders include the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, Public Welfare Foundation,, The Just Trust, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Fund’s broader membership includes institutions/organizations Grantmakers for Southern Progress, Galaxy Gives, and Groundwork.


The Foundation for the Mid South is committed to fostering growth and prosperity in the Mid South region, through initiatives that support education, community businesses, public health and wealth-building.


The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information,  


The Fund awards grants to Mississippi-based, community organizations that are advancing strategies to end reliance on incarceration and foster community safety through power building, community organizing, public education, and/or advocacy. The MJF will prioritize support for Mississippi-based adult and youth justice reform organizations and initiatives led by Black, POC, formerly incarcerated and/or justice-impacted individuals (c3 and/or fiscally sponsored) and Organizations with initiatives based in geographically underserved regions in Mississippi and/or that have been traditionally underfunded by national philanthropic organizations.

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