The Equal Justice Initiative (or EJI) is a non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial. It guarantees the defense of anyone in Alabama in a death penalty case.
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was founded in 1994 in Montgomery, Alabama, by attorney Bryan Stevenson, who has served as the organization’s executive director ever since. He had been working on Alabama defense cases since 1989 for the Southern Center for Human Rights and was director of its center for Alabama operations. It had received federal funding to provide legal representation to prisoners on death row. In 1994, after Republicans gained control of Congress in a mid-term election, they ceased funding such centers. Alabama is the only state that does not provide legal assistance to death row prisoners; EJI has committed to representing them.
Stevenson converted his operation in Montgomery by founding a non-profit, the Equal Justice Initiative. In 1995 he was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, and he applied all of the money to support the EJI. The EJI “guarantees legal representation to every inmate on the state’s death row.” It has worked to eliminate excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerate innocent death row prisoners, confront abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aid children prosecuted as adults.
EJI has a staff of 40, including attorneys and support personnel.