There are so many quotes about information, to name a few: that it is liberating; that it enlightens; that it empowers; that it is power.
The Just Info Hotline is the premier project of the New York Law Collective. It is designed to bring often inaccessible information about the criminal legal system to people who most need it, as well as provide service referrals relating to the many collateral consequences that stem from interactions with the criminal legal system.
In this day and age, there is a lot of information, and misinformation, especially about the criminal legal system. The last thing anyone involved with the criminal legal system needs is inaccurate or incorrect information about it. Despite the fact that information is more accessible today than ever before, some forms of information still doesn’t make it into the hands of the people who most need it. Additionally, people often do not even know about such resources, where they can get the information they need, specifically about the criminal legal system.
There is a legal principle that “ignorance of the law excuses no one.” However, that ignorance may have costly consequences. As the founders of the Just Info Hotline knew from their prior work in courts, which was reinforced during their work supporting people arrested during Occupy Wall Street, “a lack of reliable legal information [read ‘ignorance of the law’] is predictive of lasting damage, and as mass incarceration ruins communities, information can make all the difference” in the world.
The founders of the Just Info Hotline also saw that there was a world of difference between the Occupy Wall Street protestors and people living in communities that are over policed. For the latter, reliable information about the criminal legal system is oftentimes critical. We are talking mostly about young men of color who are more likely to be stopped, frisked, questioned, arrested and detained by the police than their white counterparts. All of these things channel them from their neighborhoods into the prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex, which is like a maze, a place hard to find one’s way out, and even when one finds one’s way out — there are many collateral consequences that formerly incarcerated people face that reduce them to second class citizenship — the lasting damage is done.
It is hard to undo the damage of the criminal legal system; therefore, we need to get ahead of its most insidious features. We need to immediately respond to interactions with the criminal legal system, first seeking and obtaining the accurate information to respond to it wherever it rears its ugly head.
The Just Info Hotline — 1-85-JUST-INFØ — is the number anyone may call to get the information they need about the criminal legal system — we have answers.