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Spotlight: Courtney Hanson

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.

Decarcerate Sacramento organizer Courtney Hanson wearing a protective mask speaks to a crowd.

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

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