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Judge and Gavel



MJP will educate and inform both ex-offenders and employers about legislation relative to this cause, their responsibilities, and the positive impact that advocated initiatives can have on the community.


Monica Cooper was raised in Sandtown -- also known as Sandtown-Winchester -- in West Baltimore, Maryland. After serving 10 years at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Monica emerged a stronger advocate for the people: she completed her degree at Baltimore City Community College and currently works for the City of Baltimore full time; served as Executive Director of Out For Justice, and in 2018 was elected into the Baltimore District 40 Democratic Central Committee.

The idea to develop an organization that specifically focused on economic justice for formerly incarcerated individuals started as a conversation between Monica and Kim Haven, another formerly incarcerated woman. MJP grew from these conversations into a one-woman grassroots nonprofit focused on “Ban the Box” legislation in Baltimore.

In 2014, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed the Ban the Box bill: moving forward, all private companies are required to remove requests of reporting any prior criminal history on job applications. After offering a conditional hire, employers are then able to request that potential hires report on any prior criminal history. Companies are not required to hire formerly incarcerated individuals, though companies that withdraw job offers solely on the basis of applicants having criminal histories [even if their cases do not relate to the job] are subject to a fine for discrimination.


To date, Baltimore remains the only major urban area in the state of Maryland to support this legislation.

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Young woman

Monica Cooper 

Founder, Executive Director

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Gwen Levi

Participatory Defense Coordinator . Community Volunteers

Happy Man

Jeri Saunders

IT / Computer Instructor

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Amanda Gray

Program Assistant

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Ryan Wiley


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Maryland Justice Project started in 2013 with one specific goal: to "Ban the Box" in Baltimore, removing a major obstacle faced by job-seeking ex-offenders, decreasing recidivism, and improving the health of our communities.

Where We Are

After the successful 2014 passing of local "Ban the Box" legislation. MJP was successful in leading the way for a statewide law on Ban the Box bill in 2019. Opening the door for many returning citizens to seek gainful employment.

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Where We Are Going

MJP's vision has expanded to economic justice, coalition building, and addressing other challenges impeding the successful transition from incarceration to community re-entry.

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