Mothers 4 Justice Ubuntu
Mothers 4 Justice Ubuntu (M4JU) is a collective of mothers and family members of people in prison, who are campaigning for justice, accountability and change within the police and criminal justice system.
Founder of the project, Jabu Nala-Hartley, talked about the discrimination faced by communities of colour:
“We see so many of our children trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system. From the preschool to prison pipeline, to probation services and beyond – our communities are criminalised and denied basic justice, liberties, and life opportunities.”
A core part of their work is supporting people who are going through the criminal justice system. The aim is to have volunteers help them each step of the way, from liaising with the police and probation service and accompanying them to court to ensuring they know their rights.
The group also works closely with the families of people in the criminal justice system. Through programmes like ‘CARE talks’, the group has created spaces for all those impacted to come together and share their experiences.
Jabu explained that shifting attitudes about their communities is key to tackling institutional racism. M4JU has facilitated between the police and communities about ‘stop and search’ powers, which disproportionately target young Black people. As M4JU becomes more established, they are looking to expand their reach and engage with more young people. Jabu spoke of the difficulty of getting young people to open up about their fears about the police and criminal justice system.
“We wanted to find a way to start conversations…
The OBO project has been an inspiration as it has supported the M4JU project with a grant Various other local organisations are also supporting the project such as Quakers, Blackbird leys Parish, Black Lives Matter Oxford and Asylum Welcome.
In order to expand their work, the group is looking to take on paid staff to deliver their programmes. The group is keen to reduce their reliance on grants and is exploring how they could generate income through offering research and consultancy services, or even running a catering business from their prison van.
Jabu shared her hopes for the impact of the project in the years to come:
“We are reimagining the future, one where our communities are not discriminated against and downtrodden – but liberated and empowered. We will hold the criminal justice system to account and transform it to serve our communities.”