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About Us

For Us, By Us, With Us

As a team led by those who have experienced the criminal legal system firsthand, we recognize that the struggle continues long after sentences are served. We remain steadfast in our commitment to dismantling systemic barriers, fostering equity, and supporting all justice-impacted individuals and communities in Michigan.


Our Story

In December 2014, a dedicated assembly of Michigan activists united with a common purpose. They identified an urgent imperative to empower individuals directly affected by the criminal legal system, leading to the establishment of Nation Outside: The Voice of Formerly Incarcerated.

We are more than a story, we are a movement employing community education and civic engagement to inspire informed, sustainable, and socially just advocacy. Our organization tackles disenfranchisement, housing disparities, neighborhood disadvantage, education and employment restrictions, and health and economic disparities. Our approach centers on community-led, evidence-informed innovation, targeting reentry barriers, community needs, and the underlying causes of incarceration.


Notable achievements include advocating for clean slate legislation, organizing the largest expungement events in Michigan's history, and spearheading fair chance housing ordinances. We have facilitated jail-based voting practices, collaborated with trade unions, financial institutions, and hospitals to promote inclusivity, and developed the Trauma Informed Peer Led Reentry (TIPLR) model, a game-changing workforce training and mentoring initiative with potential nationwide impact, supported by the Michigan Justice Fund.

Meet Our Leadership Team


Jessica Henry

Senior Program Manager Chapter Engagement/Outreach


Patrice Fails, LLMSW

Supervisor of Case Management & Compliance


James Thomas

TIPLR Program Manager

Meet Our
Community Engagment Team


Our Board of Directors

Ronald Simpson-Bey, Treasurer

Debra Wright, Secretary

Monica Jahner, Director

Collin McDonough, Director 

Richard Speck, Director

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