• Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins,
    Co-Founder + CEO
  • joinpromise.com , @phaedrael
  • Founded 2017
  • Roc Nation, Y Combinator,
    Kapor Capital, First Round

Profile 27 : PROMISE


Promise was founded to make a meaningful impact on America‚Äôs criminal justice system. They believe alternatives to incarceration can create safer and stronger communities. Their solution emphasizes the concept of “decarceration” for the twelve million people who cycle through local jails in the US every year, most of whom are pretrial and can’t afford bail. Their platform provides technology and tools for released individuals, administrative agencies, and government leaders.

Founder Story Nugget

“I came out of a community that didn’t have many resources. There were violent households. Families doomed by drugs. My life was fortunate. I did labor organizing for South Bay Labor Council. I advised Prince on digital-rights management. I ran revenue at Honor, a home health care startup.

Then a friend called and said there were bounty hunters at her door. Someone she loved had missed a hearing, and there was a warrant out for his arrest. He was so scared. He just wanted to keep working, to support his family. He had no money for a lawyer or bail.

We called the public defender and had it fixed in five minutes. But many people don’t have the resources to work the system. The reality is that it’s broken. People of color are being arrested for sleeping. For walking. For shopping.

Seventy percent of people held in county jails have not been convicted of a crime. They can’t afford bail and are just waiting for a trial. It leads to prison overcrowding. The longer you’re in, the likelier you are to lose your job, be separated from your family, and end up back in jail. My co-founder and I realized we needed a technology that gets people to court, so they won’t be jailed for missing a date. We also want the private bail industry to die.”

~Excerpts from Inc Magazine article, by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, August 2018