As a grass-roots organization, we believe that real change starts with real people. Our goal is to strengthen our community from the ground up, one family and one case at a time, until the people whose lives are most affected by systematic injustice become the same leaders who stand in the face of that injustice and demand change for themselves, for each other, and for future generations.
The L.E.A.H. team believes that in order to create change, we cannot play by the rules of a broken injustice system that continues to use discriminatory practices that have trapped generations of people in a web of trauma, prejudice, and abuse. We are exhausted by a justice system that prefers punishment to rehabilitation, treats incarcerated people as sub-human, and intentionally harms and isolates vulnerable communities of people.
A Peoples Approach
The mission of the Legal Empowerment & Advocacy Hub is to develop, practice, and promote the best practices of legal empowerment, community peacebuilding, and community organizing to expand access to justice, peace, and power for isolated, incarcerated and vulnerable communities.
L.E.A.H. inspires citizenship by equipping vulnerable communities to know, use, and shape the laws and policies that govern their day to day lives.
Our vision is a world where justice, peace, and power is the human right of all people and not a privilege for a few.
The Piles & Piers That Supports LEAH’s Bridge Of
Peace And Justice
Knowing The Law
Using The Law
Shaping The Law
Leadership & Advocacy
Our History & Principles
The Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (L.E.A.H.) was founded by Jhody Polk in 2019, and was born from a combination of a Soros Justice Fellowship, being introduced to legal empowerment, her work experience at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, her experience as an incarcerated jailhouse lawyer and life. L.E.A.H. is the first Participatory Defense hub in the State of Florida and the home of the National Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative.
Millions of people worldwide live in extreme conditions of injustice without the tools to resolve their justice problems. People with unresolved justice problems pay a high cost, including becoming victims and defendants in the criminal justice system. Over 2 million people are incarcerated annually in the U.S., and that does not include the millions who are incarcerated within their communities, neighborhoods, and bodies.
L.E.A.H. believes that the U.S. criminal justice system is the result of a lack of
knowledge, trust, and access to the law, as well as a lack of a healthy justice system. We believe that a lack of accountability, representation, and participation in laws, policy, and government removes the awareness and interest in citizenship and humanity for directly affected communities.
L.E.A.H. uses legal empowerment, a process by which people know the law, use the law, and shape the law, and community peacebuilding practices to shift power to vulnerable communities through organizing safer communities inside and outside of prisons & jails. We value healing, truth, and integrity to maximize strategies, partnerships, and collective people power to expand access to justice, and peace. LE.A.H. trains and partners with lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers, and community to grow legal empowerment and peace all over the world!
On the bridge of peace and justice, communities, inside of both jails and prisons, can identify the barriers that make them vulnerable to all forms of incarceration and can be connected to civil, legal, social, and human resources that can help them prevent incarceration and improve their community and societal quality of life. L.E.A.H.’s cycle of legal empowerment abolishes the cycle of incarceration and brings justice and peace into a restorative circle around communities. Join Us Today