Out For Justice is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. As we reflect on a decade of engaging, educating, and empowering individuals who are directly or indirectly impacted by the criminal legal system, we are grateful to our members who are the heartbeat of Out For Justice. Many of our members are impacted individuals who came to Out For Justice seeking assistance for themselves or a loved one. Now, they are active members of our community who are committed to fulfilling our mission.
Latausha Newman is a member whose life has been transformed by Out For Justice. Latausha experienced a lot of challenges in her life, resulting in mental health struggles. When her mother passed away, she felt angry and didn’t know how to handle her emotions in a healthy way. She felt like she was on her own and that no one could help her. Latausha recalls, “I kept getting in trouble and got into a lot of fights.” She started self medicating to cope with her pain. Then, she got involved with the criminal legal system and lost custody of her children. Latausha hit rock bottom when she got into a bad multi-car collision on the highway that could have been fatal. That was the wake-up call Latausha needed to finally seek help.
Latausha started her healing journey with PIVOT, a nonprofit that connects women released from the corrections system with critical services. She successfully completed their program with high accolades. PIVOT then referred Latausha to Out For Justice for assistance with navigating the legal system and helping her achieve her goals of regaining custody of her three children and repairing her relationships with them.
Out For Justice connected Latausha with a sober living house, educated her about the details of her legal case, and guided her on how to achieve her goals with her chi ldren. OFJ also referred Latausha to our partner Life After Release, a formerly incarcerated women-led organization in the DMV area, to complete their Justice & Liberation Institute program.
Since becoming an Out For Justice member, Latausha has gotten a full-time job and housing in anticipation of reuniting with her children. She is working through the legal process to regain custody of them. Latausha is also learning how to advocate for her own needs and the needs of the community. She volunteers her time supporting other members, especially mothers who are in a similar situation.
Latausha sees a noticeable change in herself since becoming an Out For Justice member. “When I first came in, I was timid and soft-spoken. They gave me the courage to work on my inner self. The whole team really cheered for me.” She especially appreciates the staff’s willingness to help her with a variety of needs, including technology training and use of the computer lab.
As a result of Latausha’s enthusiastic engagement and personal growth, Out For Justice has awarded her the 2022 OFJ Steadfast Member Award. She will receive the award publicly at Out For Justice’s anniversary fundraising gala on December 30th, 2022. Latausha says, “I’m proud of me. My energy is different. I feel more confident about myself.” She also recognizes her growth in allowing people to help her. Previously, she didn’t believe that anyone could understand her pain. Now, Latausha wants others who are going through a difficult experience with the criminal legal system to know that Out For Justice can help, just like they helped her. As Latausha says, “If you’re in a dark place, it’s light on the other side of that tunnel. If the door can open for me, it can open for anybody.”