After a short stint in prison, Stephen Carrington @stephvonforlife was a newlywed father, training to be an EMT and…
In the wake of the recent protests, justice advocate and philanthropist Jason Flom has been flooded with questions from people who are looking for advice on how to use their time, energy and money to make the biggest impact in the fight for equality in our criminal legal system.
He recently moderated “Power to the People,” a discussion and Q & A session featuring a panel of four leading criminal legal system experts and civil rights activists. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Marie Cullors, prison industry expert Bianca Tylek, Drug Policy Alliance executive director Kassandra Frederique, and civil rights lawyer Alec Karakatsanis will share their thoughts on how people can take action individually and collectively.
“In my three decades of fighting to transform our criminal legal system, I have seen countless examples of unimaginable cruelty, but I have never seen anything worse than the slow motion lynching of George Floyd by the very same people who were being paid with his tax dollars – and those of his community – to protect and serve him,” said Flom. “This on the heels of the brutal and senseless murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and thousands of other unarmed black people has pushed our fellow citizens past the breaking point.”
The founder and CEO of Lava Media (which includes Lava Music and Lava for Good Podcasts) and a founding board member of the Innocence Project, Flom has been widely recognized as a force for change in the criminal justice arena. For three decades, he’s worked closely with policy makers, advocacy groups, activists, celebrities, and other philanthropists to shine a light on the gross injustices of our criminal legal system and to help secure pardons, clemencies and exonerations for numerous wrongfully incarcerated men and women. In his Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom podcast, Flom has interviewed Brendan Dassey, Rodney Reed, and scores of others who have found themselves imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is part of a slate of Wrongful Conviction Presents podcasts that can be found at www.wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com.
Artist, organizer, educator, and popular public speaker Patrisse Cullors is a Los Angeles native and cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and founder of grassroots Los Angeles-based organization Dignity and Power Now. Cullors’ work for Black Lives Matter recently received recognition in TIME Magazine’s 2020 100 Women of the Year project. Cullors is a New York Times bestselling author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (2018). She is also the Faculty Director at Arizona’s Prescott College of a new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program that she has developed. In 2019, Patrisse joined Freeform’s Good Trouble Season Two as a staff writer and actor. She has continued writing for its third season. For the last 20 years, Cullors has been on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and led Reform LA Jails’ “Yes on R” campaign, a ballot initiative that passed by a 71% landslide victory in March 2020. Cullors’ work to decarcerate and affirm human dignity continues as she joins The Justice Collaborative team as a Senior Advisor.
Bianca Tylek is the founder of Worth Rises, a national organization dismantling the prison industry and ending the exploitation of those it targets, namely Black and Brown communities. As one of the leading experts on the prison industry and prison divestment, her work has cost the industry and its investors over a billion dollars. Tylek led the nation’s first successful campaign to make jail phone calls free and has blocked major acquisitions in the prison industry. In just three years, her work has cost the industry and its investors over a billion dollars and saved communities tormented by incarceration millions. She has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Essence, CNBC, Business Insider, Bloomberg, and more. Tylek is a 2020 TED Fellow and Art For Justice Fellow, and has previously been awarded fellowships by Equal Justice Works, Harvard University, Ford Foundation, Paul & Daisy Soros, and Education Pioneers.
Kassandra Frederique is the incoming executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs. She was the architect of the campaign that cut the number of New York City marijuana arrests by more than 99%, curtailing the city’s infamous reign as the marijuana arrest capital of the country. Frederique has been featured in The New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Netflix documentary Grass is Greener. She has received numerous awards including the Activist Award from SEIU32BJ, New York City Council Women of Distinction, VOCAL New York’s Joe Boastic Advocacy Award, National Advocates for Pregnant Women Emerging Leader award, and was recognized on both Essence Magazine’s Woke 100 and The Root’s ROOT100.
Alec Karakatsanis is the founder of Civil Rights Corps, an organization designed to advocate for racial justice and bring systemic civil rights cases on behalf of poor people. He was named the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice and was awarded the Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South by Gideon’s Promise. The author of Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System (The New Press), he lives in Washington, DC. Recently, Karakatsanis has been challenging jurisdictions across the country to immediately release vulnerable incarcerated people in order to prevent the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus in the nation’s jails and prisons.