Andrea C. James is the CAN-DO Secretary, Executive Advisor in addition to the Executive Director of Families For Justice As Healing – an organization she founded in 2015.
Andrea James has worked within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years from her days as a youth worker to a criminal defense attorney. She dedicated her time and resources to providing zealous representation to families within her community of Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 2009 Andrea was sentenced to serve a 24-month federal prison sentence. Even after a lifetime of work seeking justice on behalf of disenfranchised people, she was stunned at what she encountered upon entering the federal prison system as an incarcerated person.
“During my incarceration I was deeply affected by the great number of women who are in prison. Most of these women are serving very long mandatory minimum or guideline sentences for minor participation in drug possession or sales. Most of them are mothers. Their sentences are unreasonably long, the average being ten years. They have been in prison long after what should be considered fair sentences. They are provided limited educational opportunities. The women have managed to hold it together while psychologically and physically enduring such long sentences. They remain positive and hopeful amidst a torrent of regret, heartache, remorse, alienation, loneliness and a host of other problems mostly related to being warehoused in prison while their children struggle to survive.” –Andrea C. James
These are the women and children who motivated Andrea to establish Families for Justice as Healing (FFJAH), a criminal justice reform organization advocating for community wellness initiatives to replace the war on drugs and incarceration. FFJAH speaks from the perspective of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children. The war on drugs and the emphasis on punishment have been the leading factors behind mass incarceration, the separation of mothers from children and the irreversible disenfranchisement of families and entire communities.
Andrea has committed herself to fulfilling the promise she made to the women who remain in prison, to speak their truth, advocate for an end to the war on drugs and to support a shift toward community wellness.
Andrea is a current Soros Justice Fellow and the author of Upper Bunkies Unite: And Other Thoughts On The Politics of Mass Incarceration. In her free time, Andrea continues developing her projects, Coding for Justice, Real Women Real Voices, and EveryDay Shift. Andrea lives in Roxbury, MA with her husband and children.