Real Change for Real Lives – 1st Quarter Impact Report

Maria, a 32-year-old resident of Holmes County, was at the end of her tether. Rent was past due – COVID had greatly reduced the number of hours she worked – and an eviction would force her and her 13-year-old daughter to gather what they could and move in with extended family in a new school district, away from Maria’s ailing mother, who stayed with Maria’s daughter during the day to help with school.


That’s when Maria heard about Mississippi Center for Justice’s COVID-related eviction hotline, which provides assistance to tenants with an inability to pay rent due to the pandemic. That call got her the help she desperately needed.


Mississippi Center for Justice provides vital, sometimes life-saving services for marginalized communities throughout Mississippi. Unfortunately, we all know that the systemic assault against the rights of the oppressed, disfranchised, and poor won’t end anytime soon.


Here is a sample of our legal and advocacy work over the last three months:


  • We obtained a wrongful imprisonment award of $500,000 for Curtis Flowers, the maximum allowed under Mississippi law, after Flowers was unjustly imprisoned for 23 years on Mississippi’s death row.


  • We successfully represented The Marshall Project against the Mississippi Department of Corrections to obtain documents crucial to an ongoing investigation of private prison corruption in Mississippi.


  • We undertook a special project with the Department of Child Protection Services to help lower-income families avoid separation due to substandard housing conditions.


  • We successfully lobbied the Department of Housing and Urban Development to change its policy on restricting rental assistance funds to economically depressed Mississippians during an eviction moratorium.


  • We have assisted almost 400 individuals and families through our COVID eviction hotline providing information about protecting their rights and accessing resources for rental assistance.


  • We are offering Mississippi’s 3000 Dreamers free legal representation in applying for DACA through a largescale pro bono partnership with the firm Akin Gump.


  • We facilitated a partnership between a local employer and a bank through our New Roots Credit Partnership program that provides employees with access to traditional banking as an alternative to predatory lenders.


  • We expanded our Justice Court Navigator Projects into six counties across the Mississippi Delta. The project helps unrepresented litigants understand the procedures of the Justice Court system and empowers them to present their sides to the court.


No one campaign at MCJ is independent of the others. By working across multiple campaigns and combining resources, MCJ confronts interdisciplinary issues on behalf of our clients. Recently, our impact litigation and immigration teams collaborated to file a lawsuit on behalf of migrant employees who suffered labor exploitation that not only left them overworked and underpaid, but also depressed wages for local workers.


MCJ works to create a more equitable and just Mississippi – a better Mississippi – through our dedicated legal campaigns centered around health and public benefits, fair housing, consumer protection, immigration, disaster recovery, and impact litigation. We work across a broad array of issues because addressing the root causes of poverty and inequity are inherently intersectional. We confront a wide range of challenges facing racially and economically marginalized Mississippians head-on, and we have an exceptional track record of making real and positive change.


Advancing equity and justice to sustain positive change in Mississippi is only possible with the continued financial support from generous people who share our belief that economic and racial justice in Mississippi is possible. With your help, MCJ will continue its work to make “justice for all” a reality for everyone within Mississippi’s borders.


Thank you.


Vangela M. Wade

President and CEO

Mississippi Center for Justice