When First is Last

Greater New Orleans Funders Network

Justice Reinvestment Initiative Campaign

GNOFN’s Criminal Justice Action Table (CJAT) retained Spears Group to lead all statewide media relations, support development of overall communications strategy and messaging, and leverage social media leading up to and surrounding the 2017 legislative session to promote the passing of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). Spears Group and GNOFN worked diligently over a very short three-month span to influence legislation that addressed the disproportionate number of Louisianians entering the criminal justice system. Commonly referred to as a “historic achievement” for Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed his criminal justice reform package into law in June 2017, officially overhauling the state's criminal justice system. Advocates of the effort applauded both the scope of the overhaul that was signed into law, as well as the cooperation between Republicans and Democrats that it took to enact the changes.


  • Established GNOFN as thought-leaders in criminal justice reform
  • Developed statewide media relations strategy involving designated JRI spokespersons and lead all media training
  • Developed series of social media videos and coordinated with Louisiana Prison Alternatives to strategically disseminate targeted content from their channels
  • Submitted recommendations for statewide paid print media campaign targeting current legislative session goals
  • Compiled comprehensive media recap report detailing all earned media throughout the duration of the engagement leading up to and after the legislative victory


  • On June 15, Governor Edwards signed all ten bills of the historic overhaul of Louisiana's criminal justice system into law.
  • Bipartisan approval of criminal justice reform was shown across the state and entire U.S. - one of the only successful outcomes of the 2017 legislative session.
  • The Advocate, the largest newspaper in the state, referred to the passing of the JRI package, as the only meaningful piece of legislation to pass in a sharply divided legislature.
  • Spears secured interviews with spokespersons that resulted in several story placements including television and radio interviews and a national print story.

144 News Stories

from local, regional and national media outlets including: The Advocate, WWLTV, Gambit, The Jim Engster Radio Show, The Moon Griffon Radio Show, The Community Matters Radio Show, The Washington Post, regional NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS affiliates, and more.

3 video pieces

for social media


95 shares and 132 likes/reactions

Gov. Edwards signs criminal justice overhaul into law, in what some laud as historic achievement

The Advocate, Jun 15, 2017
With many supporters calling it an "historic achievement" for Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed 10 bills into law overhauling the state's criminal justice system, with an eye on shedding the state's undesired title of the world's incarceration capital.

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