Our Struggle – Our Story

Studies suggest that five years behind bars increases the odds of early death by up to 78%.
Police violence is a leading cause of death for young men of color.
In the United States, 50 percent of people killed by law enforcement are disabled
60% of people in jails are black and brown.
Florida has the third-largest prison population in the United States, with Broward and Miami-Dade being the most highly populated jails in our state.
833 people per 100,000 Florida residents are behind bars, and thousands more are impacted by the criminal legal system.
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Our Struggle

Research shows that although 90% of those incarcerated are eventually released, most people will have little to no access to rehabilitative and reentry services.

People with arrest records often return to their communities without the resources and support needed to successfully reintegrate into society. Additionally, in the United States, those with behavioral health conditions are 10 times more likely to end up imprisoned than in the care of a mental health services provider.

The result?

Ongoing cycles of re-arrest and an unprecedented number of people in jails and prisons who are not receiving the care they need to address addiction and mental health conditions. 

Our Story

Chainless Change is a peer-led Recovery Community Organization (RCO) that was founded in 2018. We were born of a genuine desire to offer the skills, tools, and second chances necessary for people in South Florida with a history of addiction, mental health conditions, and trauma to recover from contact with the criminal legal system. We are recovery-oriented abolitionists who believe that the prison industrial complex and its overlapping systems must be dismantled and replaced with restorative, rehabilitative, and transformative processes.

Chainless Change has three primary aims:

  1. Be culturally responsive to the ever-evolving needs of individuals impacted by both the criminal legal system and behavioral health conditions
  2. Act as a recovery community
  3. Challenge the inequities and injustices of the criminal legal system through advocacy and action

The majority of our team members, organizing base and program participants are justice-impacted people with a history of behavioral health conditions. Many are from underserved communities affected by institutionalized racial injustice, wealth and education disparities, housing inequities, trauma, over-policing, and the criminalization of behavioral health and socioeconomic factors.

A Force for Good

Since our inception, Chainless Change has been a community of recovery, advocacy, and support for people in South Florida who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. In 2018, we began providing self-advocacy tools for people with legal financial obligations and license suspensions. During that same year, we became an active voice in local decision making bodies. In 2019, we spearheaded a voter registration campaign that targeted returning citizens, hosted a reentry simulation and launched our flagship POWER program. In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, we led a COVID-19 rapid response strategy, spearheaded Decarcerate Broward Coalition, launched #DrivingOnEmpty, and was appointed to the Miami-Dade Driver’s License Suspension Task Force. In 2021, we increased the number of people served by nearly fifty-percent and enrolled more community members in organizing against injustice.

Our Future

Years from now, people will see that Chainless Change created safer, healthier, more equitable communities by supporting justice-involved individuals with behavioral health conditions, curbing recidivism, and contributing to the end of mass incarceration in South Florida.

One hundred years from now, the contributions Chainless Change made to the vibrancy and tapestry of South Florida will be evident, and people will always remember the shift in how justice is viewed and administered across the nation. Our legacy will be a lifelong commitment to empowering our people and fighting to abolish the prison industrial complex.