For ten years, Courtney Hanson has been on the front lines of social justice movement. Courtney is an organizer with Decarcerate Sacramento, a coalition working to end jail expansions, decrease jail populations, and shift county funds away from policing and incarceration.
We caught up with Courtney to learn more about her work and vision for social justice in Sacramento County.
SJPC: What does social justice mean to you?
Courtney: My vision of social justice is deeply rooted in abolition, meaning we cannot redistribute resources, power, and life chances on the scale that is necessary without dismantling the prison-industrial complex.This vision requires us to have a long-term political strategy—decarcerate, divest, and re-invest—but it also informs how we treat each other and how we build our movements. They have to be rooted in love, and accountability.
SJPC: Why are you involved in the fight for social justice?
Courtney: I got involved in the student movement in 2009. Then I spent a night in jail in 2011, which was a horrible but deeply impactful experience—a 20-hour lesson on race and class in America. I've been fighting to dismantle that system ever since. That same year, incarcerated people across California launched a historic hunger strike against the use of indefinite solitary confinement, which at its peak involved 30,000 people. That's when I became an "organizer" and not just an "activist," getting people together to paint banners, hold rallies, do mass call-ins, and flyer all across town.
SJPC: How do you self-care, to keep fighting the good fight?
Courtney: I've developed a whole laundry list of strategies, but I'm still learning. Sometimes it's as simple as remembering to take deep breaths and drink enough water. I try to check myself on sense of urgency—social justice work always feels urgent, but it's not healthy or sustainable or effective to operate at that pace constantly. I really enjoy cooking for others, reading, biking, and just being outside. My most successful self care is when I'm outside of cell reception!
For more information about Decarcerate Sacramento, visit https://www.decarceratesac.org/.