Glenn E. Martin is the President and Founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030. He is part of the vanguard of advocates working to make that future a reality. His goal is to amplify the voice of the people most impacted, and to position them as reform leaders. At its core, JLUSA challenges the assumption that formerly incarcerated people lack the skills to thoughtfully weigh in on policy reform. Rather, JLUSA is based on the principle that people closest to the problem are also the people closest to its solution.
Mr. Martin speaks from personal experience, having spent six years incarcerated in a New York State prison in the early 1990s. That experience has informed his career, which has been recognized with honors such as the 2017 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the 2014 Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellowship. Mr. Martin is also the founder of the #CLOSErikers campaign. Prior to founding JLUSA, he was the Vice President of The Fortune Society, one of the most respected reentry organizations in the country, the Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center, and one of the Co-Founders of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition.
Mr. Martin’s bold, unflinching leadership is recognized by leaders from across the political spectrum. Praise from Karol V. Mason, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs is representative of the accolades he has received: “Thanks to you and so many other like you, we are on our way to restoring common sense to our corrections policies and correcting a terrible imbalance in this country.” Mr. Martin is a sought after public speaker and a frequent media guest appearing on national news outlets such as NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera and CSPAN.
Despite these accolades and achievements, Mr. Martin has continued to experience the stigma of a record, even while being recognized as a national justice reform leader. He was invited to the White House in 2015 to discuss mass incarceration and law enforcement issues. Before being allowed to enter, he was separated from his colleagues by the Secret Service and required to wear a special credential and have an escort—all due to his past conviction. After this embarrassing episode, he was ushered into his scheduled meeting late, after all other guests had been seated and the justice reform meeting had already begun without him. The irony was not lost on Mr. Martin. Leveraging his national platform, he published an open letter to President Obama in the Wall Street Journal, explaining that this type of treatment “erodes the life” of principles of justice and fairness. He was later invited back to the White House to speak on a panel and meet with President Obama. Today Mr. Martin continues to use his multiple platforms to influence justice policy and lift up the voices of those most impacted.