The New Press Begins 2019 with Three Major Grants for Criminal Justice Publishing

Friday, March 29, 2019


March 2019—Three major grants from leading philanthropic organizations will allow The New Press to expand and strengthen its award-winning criminal justice publishing program in 2019 and beyond. The Art for Justice Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have each announced two-year grants for a total of $750,000 in support. This funding will underwrite books currently in process and will support the commissioning of significant new work on criminal justice reform.

Since its founding over twenty-five years ago, The New Press has become a leading publisher of criminal justice reform books. Early groundbreaking works include Marc Mauer’s Race to Incarcerateand David Cole’s No Equal Justice, both published in 1999. In 2010 The New Press published The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, which won numerous awards including an NAACP Image Award and is currently in its tenth year on The New York Times bestseller list; that book is widely credited with catalyzing the current criminal justice reform movement. Recent publications include Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis’s The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences (December 2018), calling for a twenty-year cap on all prison sentences, as part of a campaign run by The Sentencing Project, where Mauer is executive director; and Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair (March 2019) by Common Justice executive director Danielle Sered, which was the subject of a March 3 op-ed by Michelle Alexander in The New York Times. Sered’s book was also made possible, in part, by a generous grant of $25,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation.

Future projects to be underwritten by these new grants include:

  • The New Jim Crow: Young Readers’ Edition by Michelle Alexander and adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
  • Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls, on creating non-punitive environments for girls of color, and Bars, a young adult graphic novel, both by Monique W. Morris
  • Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System by Civil Rights Corp executive director Alec Karakatsanis
  • The Fourth: From Stop and Frisk to Shoot and Kill by award-winning UCLA law professor Devon W. Carbado, on how the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect police officers rather than regular citizens
  • A historical guide to the Indiana Women’s Prison, written by incarcerated women and edited by Art for Justice fellow Michelle Jones
  • American Epidemic: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Opioid Crisis, a collection of the best journalism about the current crisis, underscoring the way our criminalization of drug addiction and lack of a health care frame have ballooned the jail population, edited by John McMillian;
  • Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by law professor and founder of the blog César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández
  • What We Know, reform ideas from currently and previously incarcerated people, edited by the Reverend Vivian Nixon, executive director of College and Community Fellowship, and Daryl Atkinson, co-director of Forward Justice, and published in conjunction with the Center for American Progress
  • Your Home Is Your Prison by Truthout editor-in-chief Maya Schenwar and award-winning writer Victoria Law, on the expansion of the carceral state

New Press executive director Diane Wachtell, who is also the editor of The New Press’s criminal justice publishing program, notes that “New Press books are intended to leverage social change. We hope that our criminal justice publishing program offers practical ideas as well as intellectual scaffolding for the reform movement. While there has been support for this program and these books since our founding, The New Press has never received such a significant amount of funding at one time for our criminal justice work. The current grants are a testament to the incredible work being done by our authors and others in this field, and they will allow us to continue to make the best thinking in the field available and accessible to a wide national audience.”

About The Funders

The Art for Justice Fund is a five-year initiative that aims to turn art into action, investing more than $100 million in strategic efforts to reform the criminal justice system. The fund is seeded by philanthropist and art collector Agnes Gund based on proceeds from the sale of art in her collection. The Ford Foundation has partnered with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to manage the grantmaking of the fund.

Across eight decades, the mission of the Ford Foundation has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. The New Press receives general operating support for its criminal justice program through Ford’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice program.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur’s criminal justice program works to address over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

About The New Press

Founded in 1990, The New Press fills a critical niche in the noncommercial, public-interest publishing sector. The New Press’s primary mission is to publish books dealing with social issues that would not be deemed commercially viable by a traditional mainstream publisher. Working with foundation and other support, The New Press develops books with an eye to their potential impact on policy and other public debates; their ability to play a communications role for the nonprofit sector; their potential role as tools for educators, activists, and policymakers; and their usefulness as the basis for broad-based “hearts and minds” campaigns.

Other New Press books in the criminal justice reform field include Greg Berman’s Good Courts and Start Here, Nell Bernstein’s Burning Down the House and All Alone in the World, Susan Burton’s Becoming Ms. Burton, Paul Butler’s Let’s Get Free and Chokehold, Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd’s Hell Is a Very Small Place (co-editors), Ernest Drucker’s A Plague of Prisons and Decarcerating America (editor), Peter Edelman’s Not a Crime to Be Poor (winner of a Robert F. Kennedy Award), Karen Houppert’s Chasing Gideon, Pam Kelley’s Money Rock, James Kilgore’s Understanding Mass Incarceration (winner of a National Book Foundation Social Justice Award), Ellen Condliffe Lagemann’s Liberating Minds, Monique W. Morris’s Pushout, and Jonathan Simon’s Mass Incarceration on Trial.