Second Chances Symposium Panelist Bios
Panel 1: Medical Compassionate Release: What’s Working and What’s Not
Alison Siegler is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and the Founding Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC), the nation’s first legal clinic solely devoted to representing indigent clients charged with federal felonies. The FCJC engages in systemic reform to combat mass incarceration and racial disparities in the federal system. Professor Siegler is currently running a Federal Bailwatching Project aimed at reducing pretrial jailing and has testified before Congress about bail reform. The FCJC also defends individual clients and pursues impact litigation in the federal district court in Chicago, in the Seventh Circuit, and before the United States Supreme Court. The FCJC’s groundbreaking racial discrimination litigation earned Professor Siegler the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Justice Stevens Award for Outstanding Public Service Work and earned the FCJC the 2020 Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence. Professor Siegler previously served as an attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Chicago, a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic, and a law clerk for US District Judge Robert W. Gettleman. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale College, earned a JD from Yale Law School, and holds an LLM from Georgetown.
Dr. Rachael Bedard
Rachael Bedard, MD is the senior director of the Geriatrics and Complex Care Service at Correctional Health Services, a division of New York Health+Hospitals that provides healthcare in the New York City jail system. With an interdisciplinary team of medical providers, social workers and reentry staff, Dr. Bedard provides clinical care and health-based legal advocacy to the 200 oldest and sickest patients in the jail system. Dr. Bedard was named one of Fortune Magazine’s “Heroes of the pandemic” and a Crain’s/Empire Whole Health Hero in 2020 for her work advocating for mass decarceration during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also written about her work in the Washington Post and spoken about it widely, including to the New=rker, to Slate and to the New York Times. Dr. Bedard has also served as a consultant to other correctional systems around compassionate release policies in partnership with the Vera Institute for Justice and has served as an expert consultant to the Department of Justice around standards in correctional healthcare. She is a member of the Correctional Association of New York’s advisory council and has sat on the boards of the Osborne Association and Recess, both organizations that work with justice-involved New Yorkers. Dr. Bedard received her medical degree and completed her geriatrics and palliative care fellowships at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where she’s also been an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education. She attended Brown University and majored in History.
Professor Alison K. Guernsey teaches in and directs the University of Iowa College of Law’s Federal Criminal Defense Clinic. Under her supervision, law students represent indigent individuals charged with federal offenses in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa. Students also practice before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Sixth Circuits. Following the passage of the First Step Act of 2019, the scope of the Clinic’s work expanded to include compassionate release and other federal decarceration efforts. Before joining Iowa Law, Professor Guernsey was the Supervising Attorney for the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington; and a term law clerk for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; and a term law clerk for the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore, U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Mira De Jong
Mira De Jong is a Staff Attorney with the Illinois Prison Project. Prior to joining IPP, she worked for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in their Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services Division, representing incarcerated clients in disciplinary hearings at the D.C. jail and in motions for compassionate release. Mira graduated from CUNY Law where she prepared clemency and record sealing petitions through her work with the Defenders Clinic, and where she served as the Managing Articles Editor for the CUNY Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College.
Professor Johnson, prior to joining Georgetown University Law Center, was a supervising attorney in the Trial Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she worked for eight years. At PDS Ms. Johnson was assigned to the most serious cases at the “Felony One” level, and her experience included numerous trials in D.C. Superior Court representing indigent clients facing charges including homicide, sexual assault, and armed offenses. Ms. Johnson’s responsibilities at PDS also included supervising other trial attorneys and serving as one of the agency’s two representatives to the D.C. Superior Court Sentencing Guidelines Commission. In 2009, Ms. Johnson was a Visiting Associate Professor in the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. Before joining PDS, Professor Johnson was an E. Barrett Prettyman fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. As a fellow she represented indigent adults in the D.C. Superior Court and supervised students in the Criminal Justice Clinic. Ms. Johnson earned her law degree from New York University Law School in 2000 and she earned her B.A. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995.
Amy Kimpel is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction and the Director of the Criminal Defense clinic, which represents low income community members and University of Alabama students in criminal proceedings in Tuscaloosa County. Prior to joining the faculty at The University of Alabama, Professor Kimpel worked at the Judicial Council of California in its Criminal Justice Services Office where she spearheaded implementation of a new mental health diversion law, Assembly Bill 1810. Previously, Kimpel worked as a public defender for both the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. and the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender in San Jose, California. As a public defender, Kimpel tried twenty-five cases in federal and state court and argued before the Ninth Circuit twice.
Professor Kimpel earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law where she was a Hays Fellow and Vanderbilt Medal recipient. Professor Kimpel also holds a B.A. in English, magna cum laude, from Columbia University and a M.A. in Education from Teachers College, where she was part of the first cohort of Columbia Urban Educator fellows. Professor Kimpel’s scholarship focuses on criminal law and the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
Panel 2: “Second Looks”: Resentencing as a Tool to Address Excessive Sentences in the Federal and State Systems
Erica Zunkel is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Associate Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic. Prior to joining the Law School, Ms. Zunkel was a trial attorney at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. for over six years. At Federal Defenders, she represented indigent defendants accused of federal felony offenses from arraignment through appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Ms. Zunkel graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University, where she received her BA in American studies. She received her JD from the University of California-Berkeley School of Law. At Berkeley, she participated in the East Bay Community Law Center Clinic and the Death Penalty Clinic. After law school, Ms. Zunkel clerked for Federal District Judge Martha V zquez in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Arienne (Ari) Jones is Senior Policy Advisor at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO), where she focuses on clemency, niche resentencing efforts, general sentencing issues, and expungement. In this role, Ari served as principal drafter of Senate Bill 2129, Illinois’ prosecutor-initiated resentencing bill, which allows prosecutors to motion to resentence incarcerated people in the interests of justice. The bill, which became effective law on January 1, 2022, makes Illinois the fourth state in the nation to afford prosecutors this discretionary authority.
Prior to joining the CCSAO, Ari worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she researched various issues related to children’s education in Florida. Ari also served as a federal judicial law clerk in the Southern District of Alabama and investigated housing discrimination claims at the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center.
Ari graduated from Spelman College, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a BA in History with a Spanish minor. After college, she completed a Fulbright fellowship to Spain. Ari then earned her JD from Tulane University Law School, where she was active in the Black Law Students Association, Public Interest Law Foundation, Pace Environmental Moot Court Team, and Moot Court Board.
Santia Nance has been a criminal justice reform advocate in Virginia since 2019. As a cofounder of Sistas in Prison Reform, she works in Virginia with many organizations and fellow advocates on legislation and policy that would help people with extreme sentences get a second chance. She is also the editor of BrillianceBehindBars.com, a website that aims to humanize and uplift currently incarcerated individuals who are educated, outstanding, and outspoken about current issues—it is organized and written by amazing people who are behind bars.
Outside of criminal/legal reform, Santia graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Mass Communication, and is an advertising professional at a major agency. She’s been named a Female Frontier – Champion of Change by Campaign U.S., and one of Richmond, Virginia’s Style Weekly’s 40 Under 40 in 2019. She also focuses on community service via hula hoop dance, leading an organization called RVA Hoop House. In addition, Santia is passionate about mentorship and representation of BIPOC in the world of marketing. She serves as a mentor for the VCU African American Alumni Association and the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program.
Mary Price is General Counsel of FAMM. She directs the FAMM Litigation Project and advocates for reform of federal sentencing and corrections law and policy before Congress, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Justice. Ms. Price was a founder of Clemency Project 2014, serving on its Steering, Screening and Resource committees. She is a member of and Special Advisor to the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, is a member of its Sentencing Committee, serves on the ABA’s Sentencing Standards Task Force, and was a member of the Task Force on the Reform of Federal Sentencing for Economic Crimes. Previously, she served on the Practitioners’ Advisory Group to the United States Sentencing Commission. She is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and serves on its First Step Implementation Task Force. Ms. Price is a founder of the Compassionate Release Clearinghouse, a joint project of FAMM, NACDL, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Ms. Price graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar and the Law Center’s first recipient of the Bettina Pruckmayr Human Rights Award. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon. Ms. Price joined the staff of FAMM in late 2000.
After graduating from Georgetown Law, James clerked at D.C. Superior Court and then went on to become an attorney on the Criminal Justice Act panel representing indigent people charged with crimes in the District. Prior to founding Second Look Project, James’s practice focused on the litigation of IRAA cases, and he served as the Superior Court CJA Panel liaison for IRAA and compassionate release cases. He is a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Panel 3: Justice, Redemption, and Second Chances: A Conversation with Yaacov Delaney and Renaldo Hudson
Yaacov Delaney is the Director of the Justice, Equity and Opportunity (JEO) Initiative within the Office of Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. The JEO Initiative centralizes the state’s justice reform efforts and promotes economic opportunities for communities impacted by the justice system. Yaacov is a social justice advocate and restorative justice practitioner, with lived experience inside of the criminal justice system. During his time of incarceration, he obtained an Associate Degree, a Paralegal Certificate and various vocational certificates. He also began advocating for prisoner rights and strategically researched solutions to remove systemic collateral consequences that were hindering formerly incarcerated people from becoming productive citizens.
Following his release, Yaacov spent nearly four years as a paralegal advocate for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, assisting people with criminal records to remove legal barriers that restricted employment and state-issued licensing. After relocating back to the Chicagoland area in late 2017, he worked as the Restoring Rights and Justice Reform organizer at Community Renewal Society (CRS), lobbying Illinois legislatures to pass criminal justice reform policies. In March 2019, he spearheaded CRS’s first youth delegation to the organization’s biggest annual lobby day (Day of Faith at the Capitol). In May 2019, he provided compelling testimony to the Illinois House and Senate Judiciary-Civil Committees that helped pass an Amendment to the Illinois Human Rights statute to protect people with records from discrimination when seeking housing in the state of Illinois.
Yaacov is also the founder of Breaking Cycles, a holistic and trauma-informed support group model for justice system-impacted people, as well as a founding member of People’s Liberty Project, a group of justice system-impacted-people who use restorative justice mechanisms to build collective power.
While working with the JEO initiative, Yaacov has collaborated with the office of First Lady MK Pritzker, the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS), and Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to launch a pilot program to support successful re-entry by arranging for State ID’s to be provided to people who are being released from IDOC facilities. He has also worked in partnership with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to design a Restorative Justice Program that will include healing conference sessions and an apology letter bank to meet the needs of crime survivors as well as persons who are incarcerated who’ve committed harmful acts.
Yaacov is passionate about incorporating healing mechanisms to address debilitating effects of systemic trauma, while zealously working to increase equitable opportunities for marginalized people/communities.
Renaldo Hudson is an educator, minister, and community organizer, and focuses his work on ending perpetual punishment in Illinois. After being sentenced to death row, Hudson worked for 37 years while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections, where he became a leader, educator, and founder. Hudson developed and implemented groundbreaking programs inside the Department of Corrections, including the prison-newspaper Stateville Speaks and the Building Block Program, a transformational program run by incarcerated people within the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Hudson’s work and life have been featured in media outlets including the BBC, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, and others. His story and work to create back end mechanisms for the release of incarcerated people is the subject of the documentary Stateville Calling. He was released in September 2020 when Governor Pritzker commuted his life sentence, and joined IPP as its Director of Education later that year.
Orlando Mayorga is a justice impacted person whose 20 years of incarceration in the Illinois Department of Corrections informs his passion to stop mass incarceration. He is a restorative justice practitioner who supports the justice impacted community, a graduate student at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, and currently serves as the McCormick Reentry Policy Coordinator Fellow for the Office of Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton's Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative.
Panel 4: State and Federal Clemency: Past, Present, and Future
Judith Miller is a Clinical Professor of Law in the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Ms. Miller was a Trial Attorney at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. At Federal Defenders, she represented indigent defendants accused of federal felony offenses from arraignment through appeal. She received her JD from Yale Law School, as well as an MA in Political Science from Yale University. Ms. Miller clerked in Miami, FL, for the Hon. Judge Rosemary Barkett, of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Both before and after clerking, Ms. Miller also worked as a union-side labor lawyer for the law firm of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC, in Washington, DC.
Professor Mark Osler’s work advocates for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. In 2016 and 2019, the graduating class chose him as Professor of the Year, in 2015 he won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, and in 2013 he received the Outstanding Teaching award.
Osler’s writing on clemency, sentencing and narcotics policy has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and in law journals at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Georgetown, Ohio State, UNC, William and Mary and Rutgers. His University of Chicago Law Review article (with Rachel Barkow) was highlighted in a lead editorial in The New York Times, in which the Times’ Editorial Board expressly embraced Barkow and Osler’s argument for clemency reform. He is also the sole author of a new casebook, Contemporary Criminal Law (West, 2018).
A former federal prosecutor, he played a role in striking down the mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio. He has testified as an expert before the United States Sentencing Commission and the United States House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Shanna Rifkin is an attorney with both litigation and public policy experience dedicated to reforming the criminal legal system, with a particular passion for sentencing law. As FAMM’s Deputy General Counsel, Shanna works alongside the General Counsel to advance the initiatives of the legal department – advocating for reform of federal sentencing and corrections law and policy before Congress, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Justice.
Shanna came to FAMM from a position at Northwestern Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center, where she was fighting for clemency on behalf of incarcerated youth in Illinois. Prior to that role, Shanna was a litigation associate at a large international law firm known for its commitment to pro bono. In private practice, Shanna took on an array of pro bono criminal defense matters at both the trial court and appellate court, including successfully suppressing evidence that, if introduced against her client, would have led to the imposition of a mandatory minimum. Shanna’s love of sentencing law is in large thanks to her federal clerkships – first as a Law Clerk on the Western District of New York and then as a Law Clerk on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, where she was involved in nearly every aspect of federal criminal proceedings. She is a licensed attorney in New York and Illinois.
Shanna graduated magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law, where she was both a notes editor and published author on the Duke Law Review, a recipient of the Dean’s Award for excellence in Constitutional Law, and awarded with the Scribes Award for legal writing. She graduated cum laude from Brandeis University where she studied health care policy and gender studies.
Michael Romano is the director and founder of the Three Strikes and Justice Advocacy Projects at Stanford Law School. Previously, he was director of the Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic. He currently teaches criminal justice policy and advanced criminal litigation and has published several scholarly and popular press articles on criminal law, sentencing policy, prisoner reentry and recidivism, and mental illness in the justice system. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Michael as chairperson of California’s new criminal law and policy reform committee, the California Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code. Michael has co-authored successful statewide ballot measures in California, and led impact litigation and traditional legislative campaigns, which together have resulted in reduced sentences for over 15,000 people convicted of nonviolent crimes, including over 7,000 people sentenced to life for minor offenses under the state’s “Three Strikes” recidivist sentencing law. Michael also founded the Ride Home prisoner reentry program, which has assisted formerly incarcerated inmates in 38 states and in 2015 partnered with the Obama administration and U.S. Dept. of Justice in support of the president’s executive clemency initiative. The work received numerous honors, including recognition by the White House as a “Champion of Change” in 2016. In addition, with assistance from his students, Michael represents incarcerated individuals in state and federal courts, winning the reversal of over 150 life sentences. Michael is also counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has partnered with law enforcement and other leaders at all levels of local, state, and federal government. He has been named one of California’s top lawyers and his work has been profiled in several news outlets, including The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Economist, and the award-winning PBS feature documentary The Return. Michael graduated with honors from Stanford Law School and was a John Knight Fellow at Yale Law School. He clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Panel 5: Fighting for and Winning Federal Clemency and Compassionate Release: A Conversation Among Practitioners
Larry Kupers was a public defender for two decades as an assistant federal defender in the Northern District of California and as a trial attorney for the Public Defender Service in D.C. He served as an Attorney Advisor at the Office of Defender Services, where he detailed as Senior Counsel to the Access to Justice Initiative at the Department of Justice. He worked in the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the Department of Justice as the Deputy Pardon Attorney and Acting Pardon Attorney for five years. Currently he practices as a criminal defense attorney in the D.C. Superior Court. He has a PhD in Philosophy, an MA in Sociology, and a JD in Law.
Mr. Goodman has the rare distinction of having won major criminal cases at every level of the state and federal court systems, including wins (obtaining the reversal of his clients’ criminal convictions) in the United States Supreme Court (drug conspiracy conviction), the Illinois Supreme Court (first degree murder), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (first degree murder) and the Illinois Appellate Court (two first degree murders and one attempted murder). Mr. Goodman's practice at the trial and appellate level have helped change the law and advance the cause of justice.
Shon Hopwood’s unusual legal journey began prior to him attending law school and included the U.S. Supreme Court granting two petitions for certiorari he prepared. Shon’s research and teaching interests include criminal law and procedure, civil rights, and the constitutional rights of prisoners. He received a J.D. as a Gates Public Service Law Scholar from the University of Washington School of Law. He served as a law clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. And his legal scholarship has been published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties, Fordham, and Washington Law Reviews, as well as the American Criminal Law Review and Georgetown Law Journal’s Annual Review of Criminal Procedure.
Professor JaneAnne Murray joined the University of Minnesota Law School in August 2011. She specializes in criminal law and government investigations and teaches criminal procedure and sentencing advocacy. Her research interests include plea bargaining, prosecutorial discretion, and sentencing.
Murray received her B.C.L. degree from University College Cork in 1989 and her LL.M. degree from the University of Cambridge in 1990, both with first-class honors. After law school, she worked in New York as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; a trial attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York in Manhattan; an assistant federal public defender in the Eastern District of New York; and a litigation counsel at O’Melveny & Myers, before opening her own practice focused on criminal defense. From 1999 to 2000, she was the International Advisor for the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights in Kampot, Cambodia.
She has defended individuals in many high-profile cases and investigations, including executives and directors at Tyco, A.I.G., and Lehman Brothers and individuals facing terrorism charges, and has been lead counsel in more than 20 jury trials.
In 2014, she became a member of the steering committee of Clemency Project 2014, a joint initiative of the ABA, the NACDL, FAMM, the ACLU, and the Federal Defenders to recruit and train volunteer lawyers to represent eligible applicants for the Obama administration’s clemency program for nonviolent federal inmates. Complementing that role, she established a clemency project at the Law School in the fall of 2014, and, with the assistance of Professor June Carbone, supervised 15 students who drafted 35 petitions for eligible inmates. Fourteen of these inmates received grants of clemency (a 15th received compassionate release, an application also supported by the Law School’s project).
A frequent guest lecturer at CLE programs, she serves on several boards and committees, including the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for which she co-chairs its sentencing committee and its second look taskforce, a member of the ABA taskforce to reform the federal economic fraud sentencing guideline, and a member of the advisory board to the Irish American Bar Association of New York (IABANY). She writes regularly on criminal law and procedure issues for the New York Law Journal, National Law Journal, Atticus, Champion, VI, and White Collar Crime Reporter; she also created and wrote the blogs New York Federal Criminal Practice, and Behind the Eighth. Murray created and organizes IABANY’s annual Bloomsday Celebration, which showcases Ulysses and James Joyce's contribution to the First Amendment.
Huma Rashid was a criminal defense attorney on the state and federal level for eight years before transitioning to becoming a clemency attorney for the Aleph Institute, where she has worked on petitions and advocacy for indigent incarcerated people under the Trump and Biden administrations. She also consults as a mitigation expert for multiple organizations, has spent several months working on the evacuation of female judges and their families from Afghanistan following US-withdrawal, and is in the process of focusing her work on policy initiatives supporting categorical clemency and related advocacy. She is based in the suburbs of Chicago and is a graduate of the John Marshall Law School.
Panel 6: State of the States on Clemency: A Conversation Among Practitioners
Jennifer Soble is the founder and executive director of the Illinois Prison Project. After spending years representing clients condemned to die in prison in intentionally labyrinthian court proceedings, Jennifer founded IPP to advocate for better mechanisms for the release of people from prison. Prior to founding IPP, Soble was a staff attorney in the trial division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and an Assistant Federal Defender in the Northern District of Indiana. In both jobs, she represented indigent clients charged with serious felonies and specialized in forensic issues, as well as juveniles charged as adults and sentencing law.
She has also been Senior Legal Counsel to The Justice Collaborative where she worked with organizers, activists, and political candidates to advance criminal legal reform; a visiting clinical professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic where she represented juveniles and youthful offenders charged with serious felonies; and a litigation fellow for the Public Citizen’s Litigation Group where she litigated consumer protection, civil rights, and First Amendment cases. After graduating from the University of Michigan and Yale Law School, Soble clerked for Judge R. Guy Cole of U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ben Finholt is the Director of the Just Sentencing Project. He was a staff attorney at North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services for nine years, where he litigated civil conditions of confinement and criminal post-conviction cases and founded the Just Sentencing Project. Now at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law, the project uses data, advocacy, and strategic litigation to reduce long-term incarceration in NC prisons. In a prior life, he was a high school math teacher.
Steven Drizin is a Clinical Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic and the Co-Director of the Clinic’s renowned Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC). In 2008, he founded the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the first innocence organization focused exclusively on righting the wrongful convictions of youthful defendants. His research interests involve the intersection between juvenile justice and wrongful convictions and the study of false confessions and his policy work focuses on supporting efforts around the country to require law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations, provide legal counsel for children during interrogations, and to ban deception during interrogations.
Prior to his “innocence” work, Drizin represented children charged with crimes in the juvenile and criminal courts and worked with a small group of lawyers and advocates – the Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative -- to mount a successful campaign to abolish the juvenile death penalty in the United States. The Initiative’s focus on principles of adolescent development and emerging new brain science that made teenagers less culpable than adults created a foundation that not only led to the abolition of the death penalty in Roper v. Simmons but also to the abolition of mandatory life without parole sentences for youthful offenders in Miller v. Alabama and to other juvenile sentencing reforms throughout the United States.
Throughout his career, Drizin has always sought to expand pockets of mercy and “second chances” in our punitive criminal justice system and has maintained an active caseload in parole and clemency cases. He considers “wrongful sentences” to be as important, if not more important, than “wrongful convictions” and has always insisted that his students work on both kinds of cases. Focusing first on the cases of youthful offenders, Drizin has expanded his parole and clemency practice to include cases of emerging adults, defendants convicted of felony murders and as accomplices, and other clients who have turned their lives around but are saddled with sentences that are grossly disproportionate to their culpability.
David Singleton received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1991, and his A.B. in Economics and Public Policy, cum laude, from Duke University in 1987. Upon graduation from law school, David received a Skadden Fellowship to work at the Legal Action Center for the Homeless in New York City, where he practiced for three years. He then worked as a public defender for seven years, first with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and then with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. After moving to Cincinnati in the summer of 2001, David practiced at Thompson Hine before joining OJPC as its Executive Director in July 2002. David is also a Professor of Law at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Professor Steven Zeidman of CUNY School of Law works with law students to assist people in prison who are seeking to extricate themselves from life and long-term sentences. A graduate of Duke University School of Law, he is a former staff attorney and supervisor at the Legal Aid Society. He has taught at Fordham, Pace, and New York University School of Law and was awarded the NYU Alumni Association's Great Teacher Award in 1997 and CUNY’s Outstanding Professor of the Year honor in 2011. Professor Zeidman is a member of the New York State Appellate Division Indigent Defense Organization Oversight Committee and the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Council, and serves on the Board of Directors of Prisoners' Legal Services and the Parole Preparation Project. He was also a member of the Advisory Council created to implement the remedial order in the Floyd v. City of New York federal court stop-and-frisk litigation. Professor Zeidman has served on several statewide commissions, including the Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services and the Jury Project, and was a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for the Judiciary in the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations.
Panel 7: First Person Perspectives: The Experience of Receiving a Second Chance
Leslie Mayfield is a justice-impacted individual who currently works and resides north of Chicago. He is a father and grandfather who is an advocate for second chances. He spent 9.5 years in prison in connection with the federal government’s fake stash house robbery operation. He was originally sentenced to 26 years, but his conviction was vacated by the Seventh Circuit because he did not have the opportunity to present an entrapment defense in his original trial. After his conviction was reversed, he joined the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic’s litigation that challenged the fake stash house robbery operation as racially discriminatory.
Joshua is a litigation paralegal at the Law Office of Hopwood & Singhal, a nationally recognized consultant, and a criminal justice reform advocate. His priorities include advocating to end federal stash house stings, promoting “second look” opportunities, and encouraging restorative justice models.
Joshua believes that meaningful systems change and ending mass incarceration is only possible when those who are most harmed are equipped with the skill and resources to demand change. His own life experience has been the catalyst, having been directly impacted by the war on drugs, and with his professional experience, from working on impact litigation and criminal justice reform at the federal level.
Joshua is the founder of Reckoner Enterprises, an organization dedicated to addressing over criminalization and creating a federal prison system that is truly rehabilitative. At bottom, Reckoner Enterprises challenges the assumption that justice-impacted people lack the ability to make substantive contributions with respect to criminal justice reform policy issues. At this post, Joshua has worked on federal criminal justice reform policy with Georgetown University Law Center professor Shon Hopwood on issues ranging from federal sentencing, prison conditions, postconviction remedies, and federal stash house stings operations.
Joshua served 17 years in federal prison because of a reverse sting conducted by the ATF. Those ATF reverse stings have now been declared illegal by several federal courts. In 2016, President Barack Obama commuted his sentence, and he was released in 2018. He frequently speaks about the necessity of reforming our criminal justice system.
Tewkunzi Green is a community leader and activist. Through her personal outreach work and her work with the Illinois Prison Project, Green helps families of incarcerated individuals navigate the prison system and the process of release, providing crucial support and knowledge to vulnerable individuals. A former client of IPP, Green’s sentence was commuted by Governor Pritzer, leading to her release in November of 2020. During her 12 years in prison, Green worked in the visiting room where she used her interpersonal skills to navigate complex emotional visitations. Green focuses on educating and advocating for families of incarcerated individuals.
Anthony Jones is an educator, criminal justice reform advocate, and paralegal. At the age 20, Jones was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. While in prison Jones transformed his life, dedicating his time to pursuing higher education and his spiritual resurrection. This journey ultimately led him to a world he never knew before. Jones would eventually embrace another name becoming “Anaviel Ben-Rakemeyahu,” growing to become a respected leader amongst his incarcerated peers. He also earned his paralegal certification, two college degrees, and became certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health as a peer health educator and a peer mentor. Jones helped many incarcerated people file successful petitions with the Illinois Cour. In April 2020, Jones filed his own pro se executive clemency petition to Governor JB Pritzker resulting in his release on July 28, 2021, after almost serving 30 years in prison. Jones continues to focus on education, which he refers to as “dedication” and helping others, believing that at the age of 50 is when we must focus on “intensified learning.”
Dwayne White was born in San Francisco, California and raised in suburbs north of Chicago. When he was 22, he was sentenced to a twenty-five-year mandatory minimum sentence in connection with the ATF’s fake stash house robbery operation. After his arrest, he learned he was going to be a father. His daughter Diera is his guiding light and has transformed his life. In August 2021, after twelve years in prison, a judge granted his compassionate release and he was reunited with his family. Dwayne currently lives and works in Zion, Illinois. He loves spending time with his family and friends and speaking out for second chances.