Press Release

The Sentencing Project Partners with The Ad Council to Amplify PSA on Mass Incarceration in America

The Sentencing Project's “50 Years and a Wake Up” campaign won Gold at the 2024 Anthem Awards as a global awareness campaign.

Related to: Incarceration, Racial Justice

Washington, D.C. – Today, The Sentencing Project announced a partnership with the Ad Council to amplify their award-winning Public Service Announcement (PSA), raising awareness about 50 years of mass incarceration in America. The PSA is part of The Sentencing Project’s public education campaign, “50 Years and a Wake Up: Ending the Mass Incarceration Crisis in America,” a movement that is sounding the alarm about the dire state of the U.S. criminal legal system, the devastating impact of incarceration on communities and families, and proposing more effective crime prevention strategies for the U.S.

To watch the PSA, click here.

2023 marked 50 years since the United States embarked on a path of mass incarceration that has led to a staggering increase in the nation’s prison population. Today, almost 2 million people — disproportionately Black Americans — are incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. The prison population has grown nearly 500% since 1973. Misguided changes in sentencing law and policy – not crime – account for the majority of the increase in correctional supervision.

“Change starts with awareness, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the Ad Council to promote this important message. The social, moral, and fiscal costs associated with America’s large-scale, decades-long history of mass imprisonment cannot be justified by any evidence of its effectiveness,” said Kara Gotsch, Acting Executive Director at The Sentencing Project. “Billions of taxpayer dollars are poured into this failed system that seems designed to perpetuate itself, driving cycles of despair and retribution, tearing apart communities, and destroying countless lives. It is a profound tragedy that should stir the conscience of our nation.”

The award-winning PSA features Joel Caston, the first person elected to public office while incarcerated in Washington, D.C., alongside Kemba Smith-Pradia, a prominent sentencing reform advocate, whose sentence was commuted by President Clinton, after Smith-Pradia was sentenced to 24 years as a college student in an abusive relationship with a drug dealer.

The Anthem Awards, which honors the purpose & mission-driven work of people, companies and organizations worldwide, recently recognized the “50 Years and a Wake Up Campaign” with a Gold Award as a Global Awareness Campaign focused on human and civil rights.

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