Photo of Johari Frasier

Johari Frasier

  • Hosted by The Bronx Defenders
  • Sponsored by Fenwick & West LLP
  • Service location Bronx, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Voting Rights/Electoral Participation
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Johari (he/him/his) works with formerly and currently incarcerated New Yorkers to increase voter participation and civic engagement by enforcing the new parole enfranchisement law and advocating for universal suffrage through legislative advocacy.

There are approximately 35,000 people under parole supervision in New York State. The parole system mirrors the system of mass incarceration that feeds it, disproportionately impacting people of color. Even though people of color only make up 38% of New York’s population, they make up over 50% of those in the state prison system. Part of addressing the cruelty and inequities of mass incarceration requires ensuring that those with direct criminal legal system contact are able to engage civically and build power within their communities. This starts with the fundamental right to vote, which preserves all other rights, and is the most basic building block to systemic change. Yet there is a lack of knowledge that people in New York can now vote while on parole, and barriers to voting exist for systems-impacted people.

Fellowship Plans

Johari will spend his Fellowship working with people on parole to register them to vote and organize in their communities via town halls and public meetings. In addition, Johari will collect data on the implementation of S.830B, a law that requires corrections facilities to provide information and opportunity to register to vote for those entering community supervision. That data will be used to create training materials on best implementation practices for corrections officers as well as judges, defense attorneys, and district attorneys, and to support compliance litigation. Johari will also assist in drafting a bill to grant currently incarcerated New Yorkers the right to vote and provide them with the means to do so.

Mass incarceration has been a tool of inflicting civic death on those who are ensnared in its clutches, and, in particular, it has silenced people who look like me. The return of the right to vote, which is at the core of civic engagement, is necessary to shift from a paradigm of punishment to one of equity.

Johari Frasier /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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