Criminal Justice Reform

If you would like to join the WISE Criminal Justice Reform Huddle, pleae email
WISE Criminal Justice Reform Huddle – New Facilitator
WISE is happy to announce that Vanessa Bright will be taking the Facilitator position for the WISE Criminal Justice Reform huddle.  Before joining WISE, Vanessa already had a strong background in helping the prison population and advocating
on their behalf.  This summer, she co-organized our WISE book drive or How-To-Books and inspiring books for the Women’s Prison and for the Juvenile detention centers (see details below).  She is also in good contact with various other justice reform groups in the state.
WISE Poverty Huddle – Education Reform to Break the Cycle of Poverty / Good News Pittman
Jenny Zito, who loved her former role as Facilitator for WISE CJR (especially our wonderfully successful battle against the Bail Bond Industry) will be concentrating on Facilitating the Poverty huddle this season.  We expect our focus this season to be on education reform in Maryland to help break the cycle of poverty: advocating for more resources for schools, better pay for teachers, better student teacher ratios, pre-K education for 4 yr olds, and for at-risk 3 yr olds, expanded free lunches, and more vocational technical education. The Poverty huddle is also excited that Stuart Pittman is the new County Executive for Anne Arundel County since he is an well-know advocate for poverty issues such as affordable housing so that our service people such as teachers and fire-fighters can afford to live here.
Summer-Fall Book Drive for Women’s Prison and Juvenile Detention Centers:
Lori Stokes and Vanessa Bright co-organized our awesome book drive this summer for How-To-Books and inspiring books for the Women’s Prison and for the Juvenile detention centers (which continued through October).  They contacted the
prison and juvenile detention centers to find out what was needed, then arranged collection places in bookstores, the BigBean (thanks Deb!), and homes (thanks Julie!).   We collected over 40 boxes of books and had several book sorting parties.  We set up an Amazon gift list to collect more books for the Juvenile detention centers (thanks Chelsea!).  We donated 6 boxes of books that did not fit the wish lists for the prisons or detention centers to American Association of University Women book drive. Then Vanessa delivered the books to a happy librarian at the Women’s Prison and to her contact for the Juvenile Detention centers.  Well done!  We also will be passing on a tip sheet and our spreadsheet of books for Juveniles (thanks Bill!) to others in the state who are interested in organizing book drives.

2018 Juvenile Detention Center Book Drive / Women’s Prison Self-Help Book Drive

This summer WISE and MAJR (see descriptions below) joined forces to hold a book drive to collect self-help books for Maryland incarcerated women and to collect books approved by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services for the libraries of Juvenile Detention Centers.

Collection points were set up at several bookstores and coffee shops and over 40 boxes of books were collected and sorted for their appropriateness for the various libraries.

Many thanks to Vanessa Bright and Lori Stokes who led the book drive – contacting the librarians and setting up collection sites; to the collection site sponsors: Janice Holmes and Jinny Amundson at Old Fox Books, Deb Hoffman at the Big Bean, Sarah Cahalan at 49 West, and Julie Shay of Good Neighbors; to Bill Carlson for spreadsheet management, to Chelsea Harris who created our Amazon Wish List for the Detention Centers; and to all the members of MAJR and of WISE who donated books and who helped us sort and box books.

We are still accepting donations of books through our Amazon Wish List for Juvenile Detention Centers through the end of October.  If you would like to donate a book you can view the Wish List and order books at

Interest was shown at the MAJR general meeting in September and from some churches for extending the book drive work and we are happy to provide guidelines/suggestions on materials prison librarians will want/accept and a list of books which have been pre-approved for use in Juvenile Detention Centers.  If you know of others are interested in having a book drive for a prison or detention center and they would like to have a copy of our spreadsheet and a list of our tips page please invite them to contact us:


Jenny Zito,

Facilitator for WISE Huddle on Justice Reform and Huddle on Poverty


Bill Carlson,

Coordinator for MAJR Front Door Work Group




WISE, a women’s group formed after the 2017 Women’s March and consisting of over 600 members mainly from Anne Arundel County and has a dozen issue focused groups.


MAJR, Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform, is a bipartisan state-wide alliance of people and organizations interested in evidence based, humane, and effective corrections policies.