New Exhibit by Formerly Incarcerated Artists Highlights Criminal Justice Reform
BURLINGTON, Vt., June 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- While melting ice cream cones may seem like an ice cream company's biggest summer concern, Ben & Jerry's is tackling an issue that's a bit more substantial: criminal justice reform.
With 5% of the world's population, and 25% of the world's prison population, the criminal justice system in the United States is what author Paul Brakke refers to as "a national shame." Addressing that issue and advocating for criminal justice reform is the focus of a three-year effort by the iconic ice cream maker, who proudly unveiled a new art installation at its Waterbury, Vermont factory tour site today.
To highlight the need for criminal justice reform, the exhibit features artwork by Jesse Krimes, Russell Craig, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Mary Baxter and other artists who have first-hand experience with incarceration and are now working to improve our criminal justice system. The display is featured at the entrance to the ice cream factory, which hosts approximately 400,000 annual visitors, making it one of Vermont's most popular tourist destinations. The exhibit was launched in conjunction with the Art for Justice Fund in front of fans, visitors, employees and those committed to seeing a systemic change in the way state and federal authorities approach the use of jail and bail in the penal system.
"Ben & Jerry's is taking action on the issue of criminal justice reform, actively working with NGO partners and in league with a growing number of companies, to learn how we can best make a positive impact," said Ben & Jerry's CEO Matthew McCarthy, "Collectively we call out the tremendous disparity between spending 260 million dollars and the fact that those impacted individuals and communities are no better off." The CEO noted that the company is pursuing an "invest/divest" approach that would redirect money from jails and prisons and put it toward programs that make communities safer, such as more mental health counselors, substance abuse programs, and job training. This approach is called "front end" criminal justice reform and is part of Ben & Jerry's overall strategy.
So far in 2019, the company has worked with Color of Change to fight for reforms including ending cash bail, stopping unnecessary prosecutions and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Ben & Jerry's has also worked with the ACLU, scooping ice cream at over a dozen cities as part of a national "People Not Prisons" tour from L.A. to D.C., addressing mass incarceration. The company is actively campaigning in St. Louis, MO to help close The Workhouse jail and end cash bail, in partnership with the Advancement Project National Office and local organizations. After unveiling the artwork, attendees enjoyed an ice cream social hearing from the attending artists, interactive art projects such as protest sign and button making, as well as music by formerly incarcerated artist DJ Rimarkable.
To find more about Ben & Jerry's work on criminal justice reform, visit www.BenJerry.com.
About Ben & Jerry's
As an aspiring social justice company, Ben & Jerry's believes in a greater calling than simply making a profit for selling its goods. The company produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream, yogurt and sorbet using high-quality ingredients. Ben & Jerry's incorporates its vision of Linked Prosperity into its business practices in a number of ways including a focus on values-led sourcing. In 2015 the company completed its transition to using entirely non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) ingredients by source as well as to fully source Fairtrade-certified ingredients wherever possible, which benefits farmers in developing countries. Ben and Jerry's products are distributed in 35 countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues. Ben & Jerry's, a Vermont corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. Ben & Jerry's became a certified B Corp (Benefit Corporation) in 2012. The Ben & Jerry's Foundation's employee-led grant programs totaled $2.7MM in 2018 to support grassroots organizing for social and environmental justice around the country.
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SOURCE Ben & Jerry's