Non-Attorney Advocate

Johnny Perez is a non-attorney advocate at the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project (MHP), a civil legal services firm that provides legal and social work services to people with serious mental illness. Specifically, he is assigned to MHP’s Safe Re-entry Project, where he works with people with mental illness and histories of incarceration, to connect them to the services in the community that will assist them to attain better measures of recovery and gain the stability necessary to avoid further contact with the criminal justice system.

Mr. Perez also works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system through his participation in the Jails Action Coalition, the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), and the New York Reentry Education Network. Johnny is also a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee.


What projects did you work on at SPACE?

As part of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, myself and Claire Deroche explored creative ways in which the Campaign could connect with hard to reach communities who do not have a vested interest in finding alternatives to isolated confinement. As a result of our time at Space we were able to be more intentional about our out reach and our ideas were adopted by the Campaign. This includes Breaking Down the Box, a collaborative documentary commissioned by the Religious Campaign Against Torture aimed to religious groups highlighting the inhumane use of solitary.


"Breaking Down the Box" examines the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

EBONY MAGAZINE: The Case for Making Free Legal Services More Accessible

Beyond reports, formerly incarcerated people speak out against Rikers.

How to Survive Solitary Confinement An ex-convict on how to set your mind free.

VOICES: A Second-by-Second Attack on Your Soul