About the multifaith Movement

The Multi-faith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration (EMI) is focused on catalyzing a faith-rooted response to this issue in a way that adds value to existing work and furthers coherence in faith-rooted efforts. Our vision is for multifaith communities to exercise and amplify their calls and actions for eliminating mass incarceration in a dedicated, savvy, and impactful manner, at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA.


The Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration (EMI) leverages the power of U.S. faith leaders and communities to emphatically demand and act for an end to mass incarceration on the local and national level.


EMI organizes an effective moral witness against the laws, policies, and policing practices that contribute to mass incarceration, drawing upon ancient traditions, moral vocabulary, and institutional strength to address the depth of this human rights catastrophe. We employ these strengths to seed an alternative system rooted in love, mercy, atonement, restoration, and transformation that promotes human thriving equitably for all.


We engage congregations and their leaders to educate their communities and move them towards actions that end mass incarceration. We offer models and training toward changing the narrative of incarceration, lifting up theologies of forgiveness, compassion, and justice. We lead faith communities in advocating for substantive change to public policy.

EMI Board of Directors

  • Toska Lee
  • Rabbi Hilly Haber
  • Burrell Ellis
  • Lea Schweitz
  • Jayna Hoffacker 
  • Saun Hough
  • Donna Hylton 
  • Sucheta Kamath
  • Edward Mitchell
  • Deidra Reed
  • Imam Mansoor Sabree 

Our History

Let My People Go

The Multifaith Movement to End Mass Incarceration (EMI) began with the Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Rev. Dr. Katherine Henderson and Rabbi Peter Berg sharing a vision to see faith communities collectively organize to stop the human rights catastrophe of mass incarceration. 

With this vision as a guide, these faith leaders brought together the historic institutions they lead (Ebenezer Baptist Church, Auburn Theological Seminary and The Temple) to catalyze a national faith-based effort to end mass imprisonment. 

The convening of this multifaith movement is focused upon the importance of leveraging the spiritual power, people power and resources of faith communities toward the effort to end mass incarceration.

Core Partners

Baptist Church



Reverend Devon Jerome Crawford is the National Executive Director of the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration. 

Prior to leading EMI, Rev. Crawford was the inaugural Staff Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice in the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Under his leadership, the Trotter Collaborative supported several statewide and national campaigns led by social justice organizations that have, among other things, advanced voting rights, transformed criminal legal systems, and spearheaded reparations research and advocacy for Black Americans. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the Trotter Collaborative partnered with eight cities across the United States and the United Kingdom to transform public safety policies and practices. The Trotter Collaborative also strategized with two governors to produce race equitable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rev. Crawford has held named fellowships with Humanity in Action, the NAACP, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership. A son of the south, Rev. Crawford was baptized in New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL and was licensed to preach the gospel at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, also in Birmingham. He later became pastor-in-residence at the city’s storied Tabernacle Baptist Church. Rev. Crawford was ordained into Christian ministry at Myrtle Baptist Church in West Newton, MA, where he served as minister for social justice and interim assistant pastor. Rev. Crawford is an honors graduate of Morehouse College, where he was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar and elected president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel Assistants Program. He also earned his masters degree from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, during which time he served as a student pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ. He is the son of Deborah and Jerome Crawford, the brother of Danielle Elizabeth Crawford Banks, and the uncle of Desoleil S. Banks.

Nicole Wiesen has etched her mark in public service and as social behaviorist. Nicole’s  love of community service and desire to give back has earned her a notable and respected seat as an advocate and leader making a difference.  Her diligence and resolve have partnered together families, other advocates, agency heads and policy makers, who understand that the opportune time for essential change for those incarcerated living with diabetes, as she herself lives with diabetes. 

In her tenure, she worked alongside W.H.O. when Katrina ravaged New Orleans and Typhoon Haiyan when it crippled the Philippines. Since coming home, Nicole has delved into the world of mass incarceration and the challenges many incarcerated suffer from lack of standardized medical attention and health care in the carcel system suffering with endocrine disorders, specifically diabetes.

Nicole graduated Barry School of social Work in Miami shores Florida with a clinical concentration.  She lives in Atlanta with her son, Alex and parents Denise and Burton Brody. 

Rev. Dr. John H. Vaughn is the Co-Chair of the National Board Of Directors for the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration.  He serves as the Executive Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. He works closely with the Church’s Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, in managing the overall vision, ministries, and operations of this iconic, international congregation. Previously, Rev. Vaughn served for almost ten years as the Executive Vice President at Auburn Theological Seminary. Auburn is a national leadership development and research institute that equips leaders of faith and moral courage for multifaith movements for justice.

Before joining the staff of Auburn Seminary, Rev. Dr. Vaughn served as the Program Director for the Twenty-First Century Foundation, a national foundation that advanced strategic giving for Black community change. He also previously served as the Executive Director of the Peace Development Fund, which provides funding, training and assistance for grassroots peace and justice organizing.

Previously, he served as the Minister for Education and Social Justice at the Riverside Church in New York City under the leadership of its senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes. The Rev. Dr. Vaughn, an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, received his undergraduate degree from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass, his Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and a Doctor of Ministry from Drew Theological School.

Rabbi Lydia Medwin proudly serves as Co-Chair of the National Board Of Directors for the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration. Rabbi Medwin joined the clergy team at The Temple in 2014 and currently serves as Associate Rabbi. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, and a proud Southern Jew, she has dedicated her rabbinate to the pursuit of justice in our society and greater compassion for the most vulnerable. 

Lydia attended the University of Texas in Austin (hook ’em) and Hebrew University for undergraduate studies. She was ordained on the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College in May of 2010.  While there, she received a Masters of Hebrew Letters and a Masters in Jewish Education.

Rabbi Medwin is a certified Jewish Meditation Teacher. She is a co-author with Dr. Ron Wolfson and Rabbi Nicole Auerbach of The Relational Judaism Handbook: How to Create a Relational Engagement Campaign to Build and Deepen Relationships in Your Community(Kripke Institute). While in rabbinic school, Lydia met her husband, Dan Medwin, and they and their three children are thrilled to be a part of The Temple community.

Johnny Perez – Director of U.S. Prisons Program – Johnny is a highly accomplished criminal justice reform advocate, public speaker, and thought leader in the field of ending torture and inhumane treatment in the U.S. prison system. As the Director of the U.S. Prisons Program for NRCAT, he leads numerous campaigns to end solitary confinement and works tirelessly to build the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and legislative advocacy across the United States.

In addition to serving on the board of the Juvenile Law Center and the Urban Justice Center, he is also an advisory board member and research consultant of the Urban Institute’s Prison Research and Innovation Initiative. Johnny’s expertise and leadership have been recognized by various media outlets and academic institutions, and he has been invited to speak at law schools and institutions of higher learning nationwide.

Beyond his professional achievements, Johnny is a dedicated father and continues to mentor formerly incarcerated students at St. Francis College of Brooklyn, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and a professional photographer at Day 1 Pictures which he founded. Learn more about Johnny’s life and work. 

Bruce Turnbull – Retired after more than 40 years in private law practice, Bruce Turnbull is now an avid advocate for reform of the criminal legal system.  He co-chairs the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative and is a member of the Board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and is a member of the Board of the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration.  Bruce represents JCPA on several Washington, DC-based coalitions advocating for reform of the criminal legal system.  He is also Secretary of the Board of the Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund, a member of the Lawyers’ Committee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a member of the Board of the Bolechow Jewish Heritage Society. 

Bruce and his wife, Susan Wolf Turnbull, reside in Bethesda, Maryland and are the proud parents of two adult sons and their wives and especially proud grandparents of four young grandchildren.

Zachary Crow is the director of decARcerate, a grassroots coalition working to end mass incarceration in Arkansas with and on behalf of prisoners and their families. DecARcerate works through a combination of community education, smart legislation, advocacy, and activism. 

Crow spent two years living alongside and learning from homeless, incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated individuals in Atlanta, Georgia as a part of the Open Door Community, a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition seeking to dismantle racism, sexism, and heterosexism, abolish the death penalty and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationships with some of the most neglected and outcast: the homeless and those in prison.

Zachary is a radio personality, storyteller, filmmaker, and poet. Along with Judge Wendell Griffen, Crow hosts “The Barbershop Radio Hour,” a weekly call-in show centering around issues of social justice on KABF 88.3. His first feature-length documentary, “We See No Enemy,” was released in March 2013 and chronicles five Palestinian stories from the West Bank. His first book of poetry, “Dancing In The Eddies” was released in April 2018.

Crow serves as an ordained minister with New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, which describe themselves as “progressive, welcoming, inclusive followers of Jesus.”

Katie is the Founder and Lead Consultant of KJ Consulting Group, and she brings over 20 years of experience working in education. Katie has served as a high school teacher, worked in higher education, recruited and trained teachers and leaders, and supported first-generation students as they transitioned from high school to college. She leads the KJCG team in supporting organizations to build more clarity and connection through talent management, team building, project management, and curriculum design. 

Katie is currently pursuing a certificate in Restorative Justice from the University of San Diego and is passionate about the fight to end mass incarceration. She and her team have supported the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration with project management, stakeholder communication, and researching and writing two toolkits regarding the School to Prison Pipeline. View those toolkits here and here.

Judge Velma Cowen Tilley graduated from UGA in 1974 and UGA Law in 1978. After clerking at the Georgia Supreme Court for 2 years, she returned to Cartersville to practice law for 18 years in the law firm of Vaughan and Tilley. She was a Special Assistant Attorney General representing Bartow County DFCS for nearly 12 years.  Serving as Judge of the Bartow County Juvenile Court from January 2000 until January 2016, Velma has been the President of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges and has served on several committees on behalf of children around the State.  Velma was one of three writers of the Proposed Model Code which was the starting point for the rewrite of the Georgia Juvenile Code. 

In her retirement, Velma and her husband, Stan Tilley, moved to Atlanta for a new chapter in their lives. Velma is an elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church and is active in justice initiatives there and in greater Atlanta.  She and Stan, also an elder in the church and an attorney, have three adult sons, two daughters-in-law and one grandson, of whom they are very proud.


You have the power to change the narratiave about mass incarceration in your community.


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