Other Group

Center for Just Journalism




Washington, DC


Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy Organization




Laura Bennett

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Center for Just Journalism is a left-of-center news analysis and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The Center claims that the mainstream media has, since the 19th century, sensationalized crime, cherry-picked data and information it shares about crime, and prioritized the perspective of law enforcement while using dehumanizing language to describe suspected criminals. 1

Center for Just Journalism encourages journalists to include sympathetic information about those accused of crimes and the environments in which they live. 2 The organization urges journalists to “tell the whole story” to evoke public sympathy for criminals and suspected criminals. 3


According to the Juvenile Law Center, the Center for Just Journalism exists to push the media to write headlines and reporting that provides context around the poverty and struggles that many young criminal offenders undergo. For example, the Center focuses attention not just on the crimes committed by those in the justice system, but also violence that they may have observed in their communities or which may have been committed against them. 4

In 2022, the Center critiqued the FBI’s new National Incident-Based Reporting System and the Crime Statistics reports derived from it. Its journalist’s guide to the FBI’s 2021 Crime Statistics argued that the new system would inflate the number and severity of crimes committed compared to previous years, and that journalists should take that into account when writing their stories. 5

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, several states made bail requirements more lenient for those charged with minor offenses. The Center published an analysis of those laws and the effects on crime, and found that in most cases, racial disparities in pre-trial release widened after bail reform was passed. 6

For the 2022 to 2023 school year, the Center tapped a group of New York University (NYU) students to research the sources quoted in crime stories and compare the viewpoints expressed by different source types related to policing, adjudication, incarceration, and other strategies to address crime. 7

Laura Bennett, director of the Center, has been extensively quoted in the media calling for more lenient approaches to crime. In 2023, she argued that stiffer penalties for retail theft would not reduce crime. 8


Hannah Riley is the Juvenile Law Center’s director of programming. She has spent her career in the criminal justice system working for the Innocence Project and the Southern Center for Human Rights, which works against the death penalty and mass incarceration. 9 10 She is a board member of the Atlanta Community Press Collective. Riley is a vocal opponent of “Cop City,” a proposed police training center to be built in a forest outside Atlanta. Many on the left, especially anti-police movements, have coalesced to protest the project, claiming that it will be a vehicle for militarizing the police, negatively impacting the environment, and costing the taxpayers money. 11

Laura Bennett is the Center’s general director. She previously worked at Pew Charitable Trusts and FWD.us. 12

The Center also hosts groups of senior advisors on a rotating basis. In Spring 2024, advisors included lawyers, journalists, and academics. Emile DeWeaver, a community organizer whose life sentence was commuted by former California Governor Jerry Brown (D), is also included. Tiffany Crutcher is also serving with the organization. Her brother, Terence Crutcher, was an unarmed man shot by Tulsa police in 2016. She founded and is the head of the Terence Crutcher Foundation. 13


Several organizations and individuals support the Center for Just Journalism, including zealous, an organization that claims to challenge injustice through media, art, and community organizing; Arnold Ventures, a center-left, for-profit philanthropy led by John and Laura Arnold; Civil Rights Corps, a nonprofit organization that advocates for leniency in criminal justice; FWD.us, an organization working to expand immigration, improve STEM education in the U.S., and support leniency in the criminal justice system that is heavily funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Institute; Just Impact, a grantmaking foundation that works to end mass incarceration, 14 Liz Simons, the daughter of Democratic political donor James Simons, wife of Environmental Defense Fund chair Mark Heising, and a prominent donor to left wing causes; and Vital Projects Fund: a grantmaking organization that supports museums and hospitals and supports socially liberal causes such as criminal justice leniency. 15


  1. “Story.” The Center for Just Journalism. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://justjournalism.org/story/#
  2. “Center for Just Journalism.” Idealist, Accessed April 2, 2024. https://www.idealist.org/en/nonprofit/8496e2a15e644df4abb3128f543e67b1-center-for-just-journalism-washington
  3. “Resources”. Center for Just Journalism. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://justjournalism.org/resources/
  4.  Katy Otto. “Media has an Active Role to Play in Ending Youth Violence – and Often it Misses the Mark.” Juvenile Law Center. August 10, 2023. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://jlc.org/news/media-has-active-role-play-ending-youth-violence-and-often-it-misses-mark.
  5. “A Journalist’s Guide to the FBI’s 2021 Crime Statistics.” Center for Just Journalism. 2022. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://justjournalism.org/media/download/cjj-fbi-crime-stats-2022.pdf
  6. “Bail Reform: What to Know and Where to Go For More.” Center for Just Journalism. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://justjournalism.org/page/bail-reform
  7. “Quantifying Sources and Viewpoints in Crime Reporting.” NYU Wagner School. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://wagner.nyu.edu/education/capstone/projects/quantifying-sources-and-viewpoints-crime-reporting
  8. Al Tompkins. “Is there really a shoplifting ‘epidemic’?” Poynter. March 3, 2023. Accessed March 22, 2024. https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2023/is-there-really-a-shoplifting-epidemic/
  9. “Who We Are.” Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed March 25, 2024. https://www.schr.org/who-we-are/
  10. “Hannah Riley”. LinkedIn. Accessed March 22, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-riley-1a4a848a/
  11. Hannah Riley. “The Mass ‘Cop City’ Arraignments Were an Absurd Circus.” The Appeal. December 1, 2023. Accessed March 22, 2024. https://theappeal.org/stop-cop-city-mass-arraignments/
  12.  “Laura Bennett.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 22, 2024.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-bennett-5a732388/
  13. “About.” Center for Just Journalism. Accessed March 22, 2024. https://justjournalism.org/about/
  14. “Home Page.” Just Impact Advisors. Accessed March 22, 2024. https://www.justimpactadvisors.org/
  15. “Home Page.” Center for Just Journalism. Accessed March 25, 2024. About Us: The Center For Just Journalism
  See an error? Let us know!

Center for Just Journalism

1828 L Street NW, Suite 300D
Washington, DC