Fiani Johnson’s pursuit of justice reform began long before she was convicted in a California courtroom in 2006. Fiani was incarcerated for transportation with distribution for having less than one pound of marijuana in the trunk of her car. While incarcerated, she said one of the most haunting things she saw was so many women returning to prison; their high hopes of success after release were eclipsed by the 48,000 barriers that people with past convictions face once they are justice impacted.
At the time of her release, no organizations in her area worked with formerly incarcerated individuals. Knowing California has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country, she was unwilling to become another statistic. At that moment, she decided to turn her frustration into a crusade and change the justice system.
As a single mother of four (two biological, one niece, and a beautiful foster child), she graduated college and got her master's degree. While building The Araminta Ross Foundation, Fiani volunteered with the re-entry program at San Quentin, which is still considered one of the most dangerous prisons in the country. In 2020, Fiani was inducted as a National Expungement Works (N.E.W.) fellow. In 2021, Fiani was recognized by the California State Senate and California State Legislature for her work on SB 731.
Today, she is leading the movement to ensure all prisons have therapeutic programs, re-entry planning, and community-based transitional services.
"Honoring Harriet Tubman's government name, this is why I started The Araminta Ross Foundation. I hold the light while they travel through that dark tunnel"
- Fiani Johnson