May 11, 2015
Photo by Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

Andrea James has fought for justice within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years, including many years as a criminal defense attorney. But in 2009 she was disbarred and sentenced to a 24-month federal prison sentence for wire fraud. Even after a career defending the rights of disenfranchised people, she was stunned at what she saw upon entering the federal prison system.

“During my incarceration I was deeply affected by the great number of women who are in prison,” Andrea said. “Most of these women are serving very long mandatory minimum or guideline sentences for minor participation in drug possession or sales. Most of them are mothers. Their sentences are unreasonably long, the average being 10 years. They have been in prison long after what should be considered fair sentences while their children, left behind, struggle to survive."

Andrea James has fought for justice within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years, including many years as a criminal defense attorney. Photo Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Creating alternatives to incarceration

Andrea has committed herself to fulfilling the promise she made to women who remain in prison. Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH), the organization she founded in 2010 inside the federal prison for women in Danbury, Conn., brings formerly incarcerated women together to be part of a movement to create alternatives to incarceration. FJAH rejects U.S. drug policies that prioritize criminalization and incarceration, advocating for a shift toward community wellness. The organization believes that to seriously confront drug-related illness, crime, and violence, the nation’s leaders must commit to evidence-based solutions that address poverty, addiction, and trauma.

When Andrea was released in 2011, she carried FJAH back to her home community in Roxbury, Mass. Since then, FJAH has been active in building coalitions, advocating in legislatures, and raising awareness among policymakers of the need to end the War on Drugs. From national rallies to summer camps for girls, FJAH is continually expanding and evolving. On June 21, 2014, FJAH led the FREE HER rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC. People from across the country used their collective voice to raise awareness of the devastating impact that overly harsh drug sentencing policies have had on women and their children and how mass incarceration and the War on Drugs has directly impacted communities.

"I was deeply affected by the great number of women who are in prison."

from our Resource Library

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  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

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  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

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  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

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    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

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    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.


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