“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”  - Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative

Who are Smart Justice Advocates (SJAs)?

The ACLU of Kentucky Smart Justice Advocates are a unified group of diverse people who work boldly to inspire change, relying on values of hope and integrity to advance the fight for freedom and equality for all those impacted by the criminal legal system. SJAs:

  • Believe all people deserve dignity and respect.
  • Know recovery is real and possible.
  • Could be people who have experienced incarceration, either directly or indirectly (such as a close friend or family member).
  • Are diverse and include members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Get Involved:

SJA Issue Areas:

  • Voting rights: A 2019 executive order automatically restored voting rights for 175,000 justice-involved Kentuckians. SJAs can:
    • Help make people aware of this fact and check their eligibility to vote.
    • If their rights were not automatically restored, assist them in petitioning toward that end.
    • Help people register to vote, understand the voting process, and prepare to go to the polls.
  • Persistent felony offender laws
  • Parole board reform
  • Second chance employment
  • Addiction recovery and rehabilitation
  • Liberation Identification

How SJAs Bring About Change:

Kentuckians affected by the criminal legal system are leading our work and are guided by ACLU of Kentucky organizers. Four organizers work in different regions of Kentucky to build deep and sustained connections with the communities in each area. In addition to working on policy solutions to reform Kentucky’s criminal legal system and meeting monthly to build leadership skills and analyze Kentucky’s political landscape, we:

  • Share our stories with state legislators.
  • Testify in front of state legislative committees.
  • Present at and attend conferences, panel discussions, film screenings, and more.
  • Table at community events to share SJAs’ work and engage more people.