Mommie Activist - Karen Garrison
Karen Garrison, a high school-educated cosmetologist, over the past 20 years has transformed herself into both an advocate for reform and a sympathetic guide to the labyrinthine criminal justice system. Now 62, she works by day for a D.C.-based nonprofit group that fights laws dating back to the 1980s mandating long mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes, particularly drug offenses involving cocaine and crack cocaine that she and other activists say have been applied disproportionately to African Americans. By night, she runs an online radio show from her dining-room table, covered with legal briefs and letters from prison.
Attorney/Consultant - Malcolm C. Young
Prison Re-Entry Strategies at the Bluhm Legal Clinic came about because of the concerns of Malcolm C. Young. Serving as Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois at the outset of the 2008 recession, Young heard many accounts of returning prisoners who, despite doing everything required of them, were unable to find work. In fact, the kind of jobs that returning prisoners traditionally filled were disappearing in Illinois and in many other states. With the clinic as a sponsor, Young was awarded a 2010 Soros Senior Justice Fellowship to advance the employment side of prisoner re-entry in the midst of a recession and severe job loss. In the summer of 2014, the Soros Foundations asked Young to contribute to its efforts to answer questions about the transformation of work in an increasingly technological world and how returning prisoners might be brought into the work of the future.
Wrongly Convicted - Johnnie Lee Savory
Johnnie Savory was twice convicted of the murders of siblings James Robinson Jr., 14, and Connie Cooper, 19, who were found stabbed to death in their Peoria home on January 18, 1977. Savory has sought DNA testing since 1998, but Peoria County prosecutors opposed it and the courts denied it on the ground that the requested testing could not yield a result relevant to his claim of actual innocence. Attorney John Barra was quoted by the Peoria Journal Star as saying that without the confession "there is no substantial evidence to tie Savory to the crime or the scene of the crime [and] I don't know how it would be possible to try him without it." The retrial was moved to Lake County, where Savory was convicted in 1981. In August 2013, a judge ruled that Johnnie Lee Savory could use DNA tests on old evidence. “This means hope for Johnnie,” said Attorney Joshua Tepfer.
Wrongly Convicted - Antoine Day
Antoine Day was a budding musician when his life changed. On September 1, 1990, Thomas Peters and James Coleman were shot while shooting craps outside a liquor store. The men were taken to a hospital, where Peters died and Coleman was treated and released for a gunshot wound in the back. Day and a codefendant were arrested eight days later after Darrell Gurley, a nephew of Peters and witness to the crime, told police they were the shooters. Both were found guilty sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 60 years for murder and 25 years for attempted murder. In 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court granted Day a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Day’s innocence became official in May 2002, after a judge ruled his original attorney had done a poor job representing him, and threw out all charges.
Congressman - Ted Poe
As a 6th generation Texan, Congressman Ted Poe learned very early on the meaning of “God and Texas.” Born and raised in Texas, his grandmother instilled in him a love for Texas, faith, public service and conservative principles. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 to represent the Second Congressional District of Texas, Congressman Poe brings his no-nonsense style to Washington, DC. He is a leading voice for Texans standing up for conservative principles, reducing the size of the federal government and promoting constitutional and individual liberties. Congressman Poe proudly serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.
Director of Strategic Initiatives - Kara Gotsch
Kara Gotsch is Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Sentencing Project where she oversees the organization’s federal advocacy work and develops special projects and partnerships to advance the organizational mission of reducing mass incarceration. Gotsch returned to The Sentencing Project in 2016 after serving as its Director of Advocacy from 2005-2012 when she helped lead the multi-year effort to reform the notorious 100 to 1 crack cocaine sentencing disparity that resulted in the 2010 passage of the Faith Sentencing Act. Her sentencing reform advocacy was honored in 2011 by Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Gotsch has also worked for the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union overseeing media outreach, public education and federal legislative activities.
Director of Federal Legislative Affairs - Molly Gill
Molly Gill is FAMM’s director of federal legislative affairs. She works with federal legislators, affected family members, and other criminal justice stakeholders to promote sentences that protect public safety and that are proportionate to the offense. She also serves as a commissioner on the District of Columbia Sentencing and Criminal Code Revision Commission. Gill has appeared as an expert on mandatory minimum sentences, sentencing law, and executive clemency issues on CNN, CNN Headline News, NPR, Al Jazeera, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, CBS Evening News, HuffPost Live, and other American, British, and Canadian radio and television shows.
Congressman - Emanuel Cleaver, II
Emanuel Cleaver, II is now serving his sixth term representing Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, the home district of President Harry Truman. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. Having served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri’s largest municipality, Kansas City, Cleaver was elected as the city’s first African American Mayor in 1991. During his eight year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an unapologetic redevelopment craftsman.
Vice President for Programs & Policy - Steve Berg
Steve Berg, Vice President for Programs and Policy, specializes in employment, economic development, and human services, and the crossover between those issues and housing. Mr. Berg came to the Alliance from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he worked on state-level welfare reform and employment. Before coming to Washington, he spent 14 years as a legal services attorney in California and Connecticut, working on housing, government benefits, employment and family integrity. His experience includes nonprofit management and staff training and development.
Sr. Attorney at National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - Tristia Bauman
Tristia Bauman combines litigation, legal education, and legislative advocacy strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Her work focuses on combating the criminalization of homelessness and advocating for laws that protect the civil and human rights of homeless people. Tristia also conducts legal training around the country, writes reports and other publications related to housing, and serves as a legal resource for homeless advocates. Tristia began her law career at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. as a housing attorney working with low-income tenants in federally subsidized housing. She later served for several years as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County.