2016 Symposium

"Poverty is too often treated as a criminal offense."

Karen Dolan,
The Poor Get Prison


On February 19th and 20th, the Michigan Journal on Race and Criminal Law hosted a symposium entitled "Innocent Until Proven Poor," which discussed the criminalization of poverty. That symposium formed the basis of the resources provided on OPD's Criminalizing Poverty page. We extend our appreciation to the members of the Michigan Journal on Race and Criminal Law for their work in hosting the symposium. The students' efforts to gather and showcase the work being done across the country to attack the criminalization of poverty was integral to the creation of this resource. Below is a schedule of the symposium, as well as links to resources related to each session. Below the daily schedules are the bios that each presenter provided at the time of the symposium.

Friday, February 19th

Day 1 Keynote Address

Vanita Gupta, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Panel 1: Policing and Regulating the Poor

Trista Bauman, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Kami Chavis Simmons, Wake Forest University School of Law
Vivek Sankaran, University of Michigan Law School
Jonathan Smith, University of the District of Columbia School of Law
Moderated by Margo Schlanger, University of Michigan Law School

Panel 2: Jailing the Poor

John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney
Cynthia Jones, American University Washington College of Law
Alec Karakatsanis, Equal Justice Under Law
Reuben Miller, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Moderated by Eve Brensike Primus, University of Michigan Law School

Breakout Session 1: Combating the Criminalization of Poverty in Michigan

Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan
Desiree Ferguson, Michigan State Appellate Defender Office
Jonathan Sacks, Michigan Indigent Defense Commission

Breakout Session 2: Movement Lawyering

Amanda Alexander, University of Michigan Law School
Purvi Shah, Center for Constitutional Rights

Breakout Session 3: Profiting Off the Poor

Sara Geraghty, Southern Center for Human Rights
Sara Zampierin, Southern Poverty Law Center

Breakout Session 4: From Foster Care to Felony

Elizabeth Bowker, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan
Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan
DeQuann Harrison, Youth Action of Michigan

Saturday, February 20th

Day 2 Keynote Address

Sarah Geraghty, Southern Center for Human Rights

Workshop 1.1: A Local Community's Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Jail Incarceration and Criminal Justice Disparities

Aneel Chablani, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality
Carol Contrada, Lucas County Board of Commissioners
Judge Timothy Kuhlman, Toledo Municipal Court
Holly Matthews, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
Sean McNulty, Lucas County Public Defender's Office
Scott Sylak, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County

Workshop 1.2: How Public Defenders Can Fight the Criminalization of Poverty

Workshop 1.3: Winning Legal Challenges to the Criminalization of the Poor

Workshop 2.1: Building a National Racial Justice Advocacy Capacity

Aneel Chablani, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality
Kimberly Merchant, Mississippi Center for Justice
Ellen Hemley, Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law

Workshop 2.2: The Ohio Model for Combating Modern Debtors' Prisons

Workshop 2.3: Michigan's Online Court Program: Enhancing Access and Fairness with Technology

Max Bulinski, University of Michigan Law School
J.J. Prescott, University of Michigan Law School

Workshop 3.1: Housing, Not Handcuffs: Finding Constructive Solutions to Homelessness

Workshop 3.2: Introduction to Litigating Bail

Workshop 3.3: Making a Buck While Making a Difference

Closing Remarks

Colin Reingold, Orleans Public Defenders

Speaker Bios

Amanda Alexander

Amanda Alexander is an assistant professor and postdoctoral scholar in Afro-American studies and law at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows, her research, writing, and legal practice focus on criminal justice and social policy, prisons, and reproductive justice. She is an attorney in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, and has worked with the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. During her 2013-2015 tenure as a Soros Justice Fellow, Alexander founded the Prison & Family Justice Project at Michigan Law, which serves families divided by incarceration and the foster care system using a combination of direct representation, know-your-rights education, targeted litigation, and advocacy. Alexander received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. Previously she has worked with the Bronx Defenders, Yale Law School's Detention and Human Rights Clinic, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to housing. She worked on alternatives to stop-and-frisk policing as an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Before graduate school, she was a fellow at the Centre for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa, where she researched urban land reform and facilitated trainings for community organizers. Alexander serves on the board of the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit organization that produces criminal justice research and sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society. She is an adviser to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated, and regularly provides training for the legal community and broader public in support of criminal justice-involved families. Alexander co-facilitates the Inside-Out Theory Group at Macomb Prison, and is taking strides to broaden access to higher education in Michigan prisons. She earned her B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard College.

Miriam Aukerman

Miriam Aukerman joined the ACLU of Michigan in December 2010 as the staff attorney for the newly-opened West Michigan Regional Office. Miriam litigates impact cases on key civil liberties and civil rights cases, with a special focus on poverty, criminal justice, and immigration. She has spearheaded the ACLU of Michigan’s work on debtors’ prisons, and has successfully challenged Michigan’s anti-begging law, Michigan’s sex offender registry, and Michigan’s refusal to provide public assistance to certain individuals with criminal justice involvement. Prior to joining the staff of the ACLU, Miriam worked with Legal Aid of Western Michigan in Grand Rapids, as both a Soros Justice Fellow and then as the founding director of the Reentry Law Project, where she fought against legal barriers preventing individuals with criminal records from obtaining housing, employment, and education. Miriam graduated, summa cum laude, from both Cornell University and the New York University Law School, where she received numerous academic and public interest awards. She was also a Keasbey Scholar at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree with honors in international relations. Following law school, she clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2012, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan presented her their “Justice for All Award” for her work on behalf of marginalized criminal defendants.

Tristia Bauman

Tristia Bauman is a senior attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. She 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 trainings 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. Tristia hails from Auckland, New Zealand, but was raised in Washington State where she attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate and law student. She received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2000, and her J.D. in 2006.

Elizabeth Bowker

Elizabeth currently works at the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan as a educational advocate for Department of Health and Human Services involved youth. Elizabeth graduated from Michigan State Law School with a J.D. in 2009 and earned an L.L.M. in Public Policy from American University in Washington, DC in 2010. Elizabeth is currently a licensed attorney in the state of Michigan. Before joining the SAC staff, Elizabeth completed an internship at the University of Michigan Pediatric Advocacy Initiative, served as a policy intern for Congressman Gary Peters in D.C. and worked as a legal researcher for Bloomberg in Manhattan. Elizabeth has also completed internships at the Washtenaw County Public Defender's Office and previously clerked for Judge Thomas L. Brown, 30th Circuit Court, in Michigan. Elizabeth has a strong passion for securing successful education outcomes for at-risk teens and foster youth in Michigan.

Eve Brensike Primus

University of Michigan Law School Professor Eve Brensike Primus teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and habeas corpus, and writes about structural reform in the criminal justice system. Her scholarship has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as state appellate courts. At Michigan, she has won the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching and has been nominated for the University-wide Golden Apple Teaching Award. Before joining the Michigan Law faculty, she was an attorney in the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. In that office, Professor Primus worked both as a trial attorney and as an appellate litigator, appearing several times before the state's highest court. Professor Primus also has participated in the lawmaking process, giving legislative testimony and helping to draft proposed legislation on criminal justice issues. Professor Primus holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from Brown University, and a J.D., summa cum laude, from Michigan Law. Prior to law school, Professor Primus worked as a criminal investigator for the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Mike Brickner

Mike Brickner is the senior policy director of ACLU of Ohio. During his tenure at the ACLU, Mike has worked on a variety of critical civil liberties movements. These include coordinating campaigns to expand and protect the right to vote, combating privatization of prisons, and promoting reforms to Ohio’s justice system. In 2013, Mike co-authored two reports focusing on the intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system. "The Outskirts of Hope: How Debtors’ Prisons are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities" chronicled how courts were illegally imprisoning low-income Ohioans because they could not afford to pay their fines. The report culminated in the Ohio Supreme Court increasing education and training for court personnel and issuing bench cards with clear rules for collecting fines and court costs. The second 2013 report, "Adding It Up: The Financial Realities of Ohio’s Pay-to-Stay Policies" examined the burden placed on incarcerated people and their families by exorbitant jail fees. Mike has also become a nationally recognized expert on prison privatization. In 2013, he created a timeline documenting the rapid decline of Ohio-based Lake Erie Correctional Institution, the first state prison sold outright to a private company in the nation. He also co-authored and designed the ACLU’s April 2011 report, "Prisons for Profit: A Look at Private Prisons.' The report highlights the problems faced by other states who have privatized prisons, including: increased costs, safety problems, a lack of transparency, and increased recidivism. Mike frequently provides commentary to members of the media on core ACLU issues ranging from voting rights to ending capital punishment.

Aneel Chablani

Aneel serves as Director of Advocacy for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) in Toledo, Ohio. ABLE is an unrestricted poverty law firm serving low-income individuals and groups in Northwest and West Central Ohio. Aneel oversees impact litigation and broad-based advocacy in ABLE’s practice groups covering Housing and Community Economic Development, Healthcare and Public Benefits, Migrant Farmworker Rights, and Education. Prior to joining ABLE, Aneel worked with the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans representing inmates on Louisiana’s death row. Aneel began his legal career with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. He earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Kami Chavis Simmons

Kami Chavis Simmons is a Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Wake Forest University School of Law. In 2015, she was appointed as a Senior Academic Fellow at the Joint Center for Political And Economic Studies. She has substantial practice experience and writes and teaches in areas related to criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice reform. After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she worked as an associate at private law firms in Washington, D.C., where she participated in various aspects of civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and internal investigations. In 2003, she became an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, involving her in a wide range of criminal prosecutions and in arguing and briefing appeals before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Professor Simmons frequently presents on law-enforcement issues and is a leader in the field of police accountability. Her research focuses on using Cooperative Federalism principles and stakeholder participation to implement sustainable reforms in the criminal justice system. She writes in the areas of police and prosecutorial accountability, federal hate crimes legislation and enforcement, and racial profiling. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2012.

John Chisholm

John T. Chisholm is the District Attorney of Milwaukee County. His office handles criminal cases for the State of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. As District Attorney, John organizes his office to work closely with neighborhoods through his nationally recognized Community Prosecution program. He designed a Child Protection Advocacy Unit to better serve child victims, formed a Public Integrity Unit to focus on public corruption matters and a Witness Protection Unit to thwart attempts to intimidate victims and witnesses of crime. He helped start the drug treatment court and participated in Milwaukee County’s selection as a seed site for the National Institute of Corrections’ Evidence Based Decision Making framework. He participated in the Vera Institute’s groundbreaking studies related to prosecution and racial justice. John is an Army Veteran and worked with the Veterans’ Administration and collaborative partners to establish resources for veterans who encounter the criminal justice system in Milwaukee County, resulting in the opening of the Veterans Treatment Initiative and Treatment Court. John is past chair of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council and past chair of the Washington DC based Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He sits on numerous boards including the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Safe & Sound, and the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area board. John is a graduate of Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Carol Contrada

Carol Contrada has served as Lucas County Commissioner since being elected in 2010, and has served as President of the Board of Commissioners from January 2013 – January 2015. She was recently reelected to a second four-year term in November 2014. Commissioner Contrada is also a practicing attorney with the law firm of Contrada & Associates. Currently, Commissioner Contrada represents Lucas County on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Community Corrections Planning Board, the Integrated Justice System, and the Governance Board. She is coordinating county-wide criminal justice reform initiatives, championing safe neighborhoods, and multi-jurisdictional cooperation. Commissioner Contrada also served on Lucas County’s Core Planning Team for the MacArthur Foundation Safety Justice & Challenge. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Denison University, and a J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1978, where she graduated in the top 10% of her class and was awarded membership in Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Marilena David-Martin

Marilena David-Martin is an appellate attorney at the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) and is the Administrator of SADO’s Criminal Defense Resource Center (CDRC). In 2014, Marilena was awarded the Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the Young Lawyer’s Section of the State Bar of Michigan for her overwhelming commitment to public service, exemplary service to the State Bar, and exceptional professional accomplishments. She was also the recipient of the 2014 Justice for All award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, awarded for her contribution to the criminal defense community through her work on SADO’s Crime Lab Unit, where she was tasked with analyzing the impact of potentially faulty Detroit Crime Lab evidence on thousands of criminal convictions following the 2008 Detroit Crime Lab closure. As Chair of SADO’s Client and Public Outreach Committee, Marilena launched “Family Outreach Night,” a successful program aimed at helping families and friends of the incarcerated understand the appellate process and to navigate the Michigan Department of Corrections. Under her leadership, the Committee has also launched a “Reentry Project” and searchable reentry service database that will help match reentering individuals with the resources and services they need to successfully transition back into society. In early 2015, Marilena began work as the Administrator of SADO's Criminal Defense Resource Center, a unit responsible for producing services, resources and training to criminal defense practitioners throughout the state. She is an experienced trainer, having conducted trainings for the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, the Prisons and Corrections Section of the State Bar, local bar associations, and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System.

Mark Fancher

Mark P. Fancher is the staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Michigan. Through his work, he addresses: racially disproportionate rates of incarceration; racial discrimination against public school students of color, racial profiling, attacks on the democratic rights of communities of color and abusive police practices. Mark was formerly the Senior Staff Attorney for the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice where he specialized in workers' rights. He served on the staff of the State Bar of Michigan from 1998 to 2000 where he coordinated projects to encourage greater pro bono participation by Michigan's lawyers. He was a visiting assistant clinical professor at the University of Michigan Law School from 1996 through 1998. Before moving to Michigan, Mark was the Director of Litigation for Camden Regional Legal Services in New Jersey. He has also been in private practice where he specialized in employment discrimination and community economic development. Mark is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Law - Camden. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Tennessee. Mark has played leadership roles in the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) for numerous years. He has also lectured across the country and written extensively on issues that include: the U.S. military presence in Africa, political repression in the U.S., and the land and resource rights of traditional indigenous communities.

Desiree Ferguson

Desiree Ferguson is an assistant defender at the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office and an adjunct clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School. She was born and bred and currently lives in Detroit. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Spanish in 1978, and a J.D. in 1982. She has been an Assistant Defender at the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office since 1993, where she specializes in handling criminal defense appeals on behalf of indigent persons convicted of felonies. Desiree has taught a Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic at the University of Detroit School of Law and Wayne State University Law School, and for the past several years, at the University of Michigan Law School. She has served on the State Bar of Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction Committee, and is a member of the Criminal Law Section. Desiree is a longtime active member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), and currently serves on the Board of its Michigan/Detroit Chapter. One of her chief areas of concentration in that capacity is to provide support to local immigration rights groups in Detroit. She is also an active member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), and served as its National Co-Chair for two terms. In that capacity, she co-authored a Brief of Amicus Curiae in the Supreme Court of the United States in Gratz v Bollinger, supporting the University of Michigan’s affirmative action educational programs. Under the auspices of the NCBL, she is currently actively involved with launching a nationwide Law Enforcement Accountability Project, and with providing legal education and other support to local Black Lives Matter activism in the Detroit community.

Sarah Geraghty

Sarah Geraghty is the managing attorney of the Impact Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. Sarah practices in the areas of civil rights, habeas corpus, and class action litigation aimed at improving fairness and conditions in the criminal justice system. She has litigated cases challenging inhumane prison conditions, unfair police treatment, denial of the right to counsel, abusive practices by private probation companies, and the incarceration of indigent persons for debt. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and her B.A. from Northwestern University. She is a member of the Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, and New York bars.

Al Gerhardstein

Alphonse A. Gerhardstein is a partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA. Mr. Gerhardstein has been an attorney for over 38 years and focuses his practice on civil rights including race, sex, sexual orientation, and disability discrimination in housing and employment, prisoner rights, police misconduct, voting rights, and reproductive health issues. He was lead counsel in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the United States Supreme Court established marriage equality for same sex couples in all 50 states. He is also lead counsel on a class action challenging conditions of confinement in Ohio’s juvenile prisons and was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit that resulted in the Collaborative Agreement which has been repeatedly cited as a national model for police reform. This eight-year effort resulted in more officer accountability, less use of force, elimination of systemic factors related to racially-based policing, and increased engagement of the African-American community through problem solving. He is currently working with numerous clients through litigation and model policy advocacy to reform taser policies in law enforcement agencies across the region. Mr. Gerhardstein is the founder of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and a board member of the Ohio Association for Justice. He is a frequent lecturer to professional and general audiences on civil rights topics, including appearances on CBS, NBC, and NPR news programs. Mr. Gerhardstein earned his B.A. from Beloit College, and his J.D. from, and was a Root Tilden Scholar at, New York University. Mr. Gerhardstein and his partner Jennifer Branch litigate causes, not just cases, and they pursue reforms in all of their practice areas. See firm website at www.gbfirm.com

Vanita Gupta

Vanita Gupta currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).Under Ms. Gupta’s leadership, the Division continues its crucially important work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and other criminal justice reforms, ensuring that individuals with disabilities are afforded an opportunity to live in integrated community settings, protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals, and combating discrimination in lending and voting. Ms. Gupta is a longtime civil rights lawyer. Prior to joining DOJ, she was Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of its Center for Justice. While managing a robust litigation docket, Vanita also worked with law enforcement, departments of corrections, and across the political spectrum to advance evidence-based reforms to increase public safety by promoting greater fairness and trust in our criminal justice system. From 2006-2010, Vanita was a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program. She won a landmark settlement on behalf of immigrant children detained in a privately-run prison in Texas that led to the end of “family detention” at the facility. Prior to that, she worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, who were ultimately pardoned by Governor Rick Perry. She then helped negotiate a $6 million settlement on behalf of her clients. Vanita also served for several years as an adjunct clinical professor at NYU School of Law, where she taught and oversaw a civil rights litigation clinic. Vanita has won numerous awards for her advocacy and has been quoted extensively in national and international media on civil rights issues. In 2011, the National Law Journal recognized her as a Top 40 Minority Lawyer Under 40. Vanita is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law.

DaQuann Harrison

DaQuann Harrison is a co-facilitator at Youth Action of Michigan and a student in Ypsilanti, Michigan. DaQuann has personally overcome many educational barriers as a result of zero tolerance policies. DaQuann has presented at conferences and summits around the state of Michigan on school "push-out" policies and current school-to-prison piepline trends . Currently, DaQuann serves as President for Youth Action of Michigan and volunteers with Ypsilanti Community Schools and Washtenaw County Sheriff Office. He is also a football player. His passions include youth organizing, social justice, and advocating for education discipline policy change. DaQuann serves as a musician and assistant to the pastor of his church. He says his motive in life is to see everyone WIN. He knows none of this would be possible without God.

Ellen Hemley

Ellen Hemley brings over 30 years of experience in the civil legal aid community to her role as Vice President of Advocate Resources & Training at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty where she directs the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute, Leadership Academies and other training programs and advocacy networks. Prior to joining the Shriver Center, Ellen served as executive director of the Center for Legal Aid Education, which provided training and leadership development programs to equal justice advocates nationally. Previously, Ellen was Director of Training at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute where, among other things, she oversaw CLAE's predecessor, the Legal Services Training Consortium of New England. She also served for many years as an independent consultant; her clients included the American Bar Association, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the Florida Bar Foundation, the Washington Access to Justice Commission, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, and scores of other legal aid networks, bar foundations and justicerelated programs across the country

Cynthia Jones

Cynthia E. Jones is an Associate Professor at the American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on evidence, criminal law, and criminal procedure. She has authored publications on wrongful convictions, criminal discovery, criminal procedure, bail reform, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Professor Jones serves a co-director of the law school’s Criminal Justice Practice and Policy Institute, and each year the Professor Cynthia E. Jones Scholarship is awarded in her honor to an aspiring public defender. Professor Jones has received the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2011, and was honored by the American University Center for Teaching Excellence in 2009. Professor Jones is the President of The Sentencing Project Board of Directors and serves on the governing board of the Pretrial Justice Institute. She is also the founder and Executive Director of the Pretrial Racial Justice Initiative, a project created to address racial disparities in the bail process, and she previously directed the American Bar Association Racial Justice Improvement Project, a model program on working with criminal justice stakeholders to reform policies and practices that produce racial disparities. Professor Jones was a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (“PDS”), served as the Executive Director of PDS and as the Chair of the PDS Board of Trustees. Professor Jones was also the Deputy Director of the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency.

Martha Jones

Professor Martha S. Jones is a member of the University of Michigan Law School's Affiliated LSA Faculty and associate professor of history and associate chair of U-M's Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. She is co-director of the Michigan Law Program in Race, Law & History. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law. Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, she was a public interest litigator for the HIV Law Project and MFY Legal Services, where her work focused on the rights of people with disabilities. In 1994, she was a Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of the City of New York at Columbia University in recognition of her lawyering work. Her scholarly interests include the histories of race, citizenship, and slavery. Professor Jones is the author of numerous articles and essays and the critically acclaimed "All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900" (The University of North Carolina Press, 2007). Her current projects include two books: "Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America" and "Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women." Professor Jones has received broad support and recognition for her work. At times, that recognition has come in the form of research grants and writing fellowships. In 2013-2014, her work was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities Center, where she was the William C. and Ida Friday Fellow. She also has held fellowships from the Columbia University Center for the Critical Analysis of Social Difference, University of Pennsylvania Law School, National Constitution Center, Organization of American Historians, Library Company of Philadelphia, and Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History. In 2010, Professor Jones was selected as a Distinguished Lecturer with the Organization of American Historians. In 2011 and 2013, respectively, the University of Michigan honored her with the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship.

Alec Karakatsanis

Alec Karakatsanis is the Co-Founder and Director of Equal Justice Under Law. Before starting Equal Justice Under Law, Alec was an attorney with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service (PDS) for the District of Columbia, where he litigated complex criminal law issues and bigger-picture civil rights cases in federal and D.C. trial and appellate courts. Prior to PDS, Alec was a federal public defender in Alabama, representing indigent people accused of federal crimes. Alec is interested in ending incarceration, surveillance, the death penalty, immigration laws, war, and inequality. He is the author of The Human Lawyer, 34 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 563 (2010); Protecting Corporations Instead of the Poor, 121 Harv. L. Rev. 275 (2007); and Civil Disobedience: The Role of Judges, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1988 (2007). His most recent article is Policing, Mass Imprisonment, and the Failure of American Lawyers, 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 253 (2015), available at http://harvardlawreview.org/2015/04/policing-mass-imprisonment-and-the-failure-of-americanlawyers/.Alec received a B.A. from Yale College and J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Timothy Kuhlman

Judge Timothy C. Kuhlman joined the Toledo Municipal Court in February 2005 and served as Presiding and Administrative Judge from 2007 through 2010. Judge Kuhlman serves on the Lucas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council as Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee. Judge Kuhlman works closely with the Domestic Violence Task Force and its Court’s Subcommittee to ensure safe and fair access to the Court for victims of domestic violence. He has also worked with the Reentry Coalition of Northwest Ohio to give incarcerated offenders an opportunity to be successful citizens upon release. In particular, Judge Kuhlman worked with others in the community to establish a monthly reentry docket where incarcerated and recently released offenders have an opportunity to address outstanding Toledo Municipal Court issues. Judge Kuhlman has focused recent efforts on working with Leadership in Lucas County to reduce its overall jail population, with particular focus on defendants of color, defendants with mental health, drug and alcohol issues and poverty. Judge Kuhlman serves on the Lucas County committee that successfully obtained a MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge grant to continue to focus on these issues. Judge Kuhlman graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan in 1988 and attended the University of Toledo Law School, graduating and joining the Ohio Bar in 1991.

Holly Matthews

Holly Matthews is the Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) is a unit of local government that provides an integrated criminal justice information system, criminal history record checks, and management of federal grant dollars to Lucas County and Northwest Ohio. Ms. Matthews has contributed to Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) in the Lucas County Juvenile Justice System: Assessment Report and the Sharing Justice Information- A Capability Assessment Toolkit. She is active in local criminal justice reform committees, including the Safety and Justice Challenge Planning Group. Ms. Matthews earned her J.D. from the University of Toledo, and her B.A. from The College of Wooster. She is admitted to the Ohio Bar.

Sean McNulty

Sean McNulty is the Chief Public Defender of the Lucas County Public Defender's Office. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Iowa and his law degree from The University of Toledo College of Law. Sean began working as an Assistant Public Defender in 1994. In that capacity, Sean represented indigent clients in the Toledo Municipal Court, Sylvania Municipal Court, and the Maumee Municipal Court. Sean also served as a Supervising Attorney in the Juvenile Division of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas for several years before being appointed as the Chief Public Defender in 2014.

Kimberly Merchant

Kimberly serves as the managing attorney for the new Delta Office of the Mississippi Center for Justice and as its education law director. She attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she graduated with a Bachelor of English degree in 1994, and received her J.D. in 1997 from the University of Mississippi School of Law. After graduation, she moved to the Mississippi Delta and began her law career in civil litigation with McTeer & Associates, where she worked for nine years. She then moved her focus to the criminal sector serving as assistant district attorney in Washington County, where she served for five years and was honored with the “Spirit of Giving” Award for her passionate involvement with the rights of domestic violence victims. Merchant also serves on the Greenville Public School District Board of Trustees.

Reuben Miller

Reuben Jonathan Miller is an assistant professor of Social Work, a faculty associate at the Population Studies Center, and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Afro American and African Studies at the University of Michigan. He is broadly interested in crime control and social welfare policy, race and ethnic relations, and the urban poor. His research, writing, and community involvement have examined the lives of men transitioning home after prison. Portions of his work have been published in peer-reviewed journals of social work, sociology, criminology, psychology, and public health. He served as guest-editor for a special edition of the Journal of Poverty, entitled “Poverty, incarceration: Managing the poor in the Neoliberal Age,” and is working on a forthcoming special edition of the Journal of Men’s Studies on the state of black men and boys in the “post Ferguson moment.” He recently published the Routledge Handbook on Poverty in the United States (with collaborators Stephen Haymes and Maria Vidal de Haymes) and is completing a book entitled, “Halfway Home,” an ethnographic study of prisoner reentry programming in a large Midwestern city. Recently, he launched a study examining the experiences of former prisoners and their families as they transition home from jails, prisons, and detention centers in Detroit, MI, attending to the ways in which carceral expansion has altered the urban landscape and shaped the lives of prisoners, their families, and members of their home communities.

J.J. Prescott

J.J. Prescott is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School. His research interests revolve around criminal law, sentencing law and reform, employment law, and the dynamics of civil litigation, particularly settlement. Much of his work is empirical in focus. Current projects include an examination of the ramifications of post-release sex offender laws, a study of the socio-economic consequences of criminal record expungement, an evaluation of the effects of prosecutorial discretion and decision-making on short- and long-term defendant outcomes, and an investigation into the nature and repercussions of partial settlements in civil litigation. In addition, Professor Prescott is the principal investigator of the U-M Online Court Project, which uses technology to help people facing warrants, fines, and minor charges resolve their disputes with the government and courts online and without the need to hire an attorney. Professor Prescott earned his J.D., magna cum laude, in 2002 from Harvard Law School, where he was the treasurer (Vol. 115) and an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After clerking for the Hon. Merrick B. Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006.

Colin Reingold

As Litigation Director at the Orleans Public Defenders, Colin oversees the office's systemic litigation efforts, appellate work, and its partnerships with other agencies working to change the criminal justice system in New Orleans. He also represents individual indigent clients charged in state court. Prior to becoming Litigation Director, Colin spent four years as a Special Litigation Staff Attorney at OPD. Colin received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Ginger Berrigan of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Jocelyn Rosnick

Jocelyn Rosnick is currently the development manager for the ACLU of Ohio. She joined the ACLU of Ohio staff in 2012, where she has used her legal, communications, and organizing skills to move between departments and work on a variety of high-level projects. Jocelyn has collaborated on a number of criminal justice programs, including those related to debtors’ prison, solitary confinement, prison privatization, and collateral sanctions. She co-authored the 2013 report, “The Outskirts of Hope,” which details unconstitutional debtors’ prison practices across Ohio. Jocelyn also stewards a variety of volunteer-based projects, including the ACLU of Ohio’s “SLAPPed: A Tool for Activists” and weekly membership mailings. Additionally, she coordinates membership and donor events, and handles the day-to-day operations of development department. Before joining staff, Jocelyn was a law clerk for Towards Employment Ohio and a Summer Associate at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Through these efforts, Jocelyn worked to remove the legal barriers faced by individuals re-entering society from the criminal justice system. Jocelyn received the 2011 Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Standout award related to this work. A true activist, Jocelyn is passionate about protecting protester’s rights. In addition to her work with the ACLU, she coordinates the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild which trains individuals to be legal observers at demonstrations in order to safeguard protester’s constitutional rights. Jocelyn received her B.A. in sociology with an emphasis on social inequality from West Virginia University. Although a Mountaineer at heart, Jocelyn moved to Ohio to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, where she received her J.D. in 2012.

Jonathan Sacks

A career public defender, Jonathan Sacks is the first Executive Director of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. Jonathan first represented clients as a trial-level public defender in Philadelphia, where he served in the major trials unit and as a felony trial supervisor for the Defender Association. Then, in Michigan, Jonathan represented clients at the State Appellate Defender Office and served as the Deputy Director for eight years. He set up successful units there to focus on social worker sentencing assistance for clients and a response to the closure of the Detroit Crime Lab for unreliable evidence. Jonathan was appointed by the MIDC, pursuant to MCL §780.989(c), and began his work in February of 2015. Jonathan received a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Vivek Sankaran

Professor Vivek S. Sankaran, '01, is a clinical professor of law and directs both the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic. He also founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, an innovative legal clinic that seeks to prevent children from entering foster care. His research and policy interests center on improving outcomes for children in child welfare cases by empowering families and strengthening due process protections. Professor Sankaran sits on the steering committee of the American Bar Association's National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System. He has litigated numerous cases on behalf of parents before the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals, has authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist child welfare professionals, and regularly conducts national and statewide trainings. He also was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Child Abuse Prevention Board. Professor Sankaran earned his B.A., magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary. He earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Michigan Law Review. After law school, he joined the Children's Law Center (CLC) as a Skadden Fellow and became a permanent staff attorney with the CLC in September 2003. Professor Sankaran was named the 2004 Michigan Law School Public Interest Alumni of the Year and, in 2006, was certified as a child welfare specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children. In 2011, he was named the Parent Attorney of the Year by the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.

Margo Schlanger

Professor Schlanger is the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. She is a leading authority on civil rights issues and civil and criminal detention. She concentrates on civil rights, prison reform, torts, and empirical legal studies, and also heads the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. She served as law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, she was a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where she worked to remedy civil rights abuses by prison and police departments and earned two Division Special Achievement awards. Professor Schlanger served on the Vera Institute's blue-ribbon Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons. She worked as an adviser on the development of proposed national standards implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act and testified before the Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Professor Schlanger also served as the reporter for the American Bar Association's revision of its Standards Governing the Legal Treatment of Prisoners, and as chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Law and the Social Sciences. Prior to joining the Michigan Law faculty, she had been a professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an assistant professor at Harvard Law School. In 2010 and 2011, she was on leave, serving as the presidentially appointed officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Professor Schlanger earned her J.D. from Yale.

Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi's current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. She builds partnerships with bold legal organizations across the world: on the frontlines of workers’ rights in New Orleans, education reform in South Africa, land rights in Haiti, youth movements in Miami, and landless movements in Brazil. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith is the Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs at the University of District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Prior to joining the UDC School of Law, he was the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. During his four and a half year tenure, the Section completed 18 investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement, including the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting. The Section also investigated patterns and practices of excessive force, illegal search and seizures, and race bias in law enforcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Puerto Rico; and elsewhere. He was involved in the ground breaking investigation of gender bias in the handling of sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the Missoula Montana Police Department, and the Missoula Montana County Attorney, which resulted in model reform agreements. During his time in the Civil Rights Division, the Section expanded its work on juvenile justice reform, including the first Civil Rights Division findings that a juvenile court operated in violation of the United States Constitution and federal law. The Section also pursued correctional system reform on issues related to prison violence, the abuse of solitary confinement and the protection of women prisoners from sexual assault. In addition, the Section worked closely with the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative to file four Statements of Interest (amicus briefs) in Sixth Amendment systemic reform matters. While he was Chief, the Section entered into five state-wide agreements to ensure that persons with disabilities are not unnecessarily segregated in institutions in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under these agreements, thousands of persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities are now living in the community and receiving necessary services to live, play and work with their non-disabled peers. Jonathan received a B.A. from the University of Maine, and J.D. from Antioch School of Law

Michael Steinberg

Michael J. Steinberg has served as the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan since 1997. He oversees all ACLU litigation throughout the state. He has litigated dozens of high-impact, high-profile cases on a wide range of civil liberties issues including: freedom of speech and expression, racial justice, LGBT rights, post 9/11 issues, police misconduct, women's rights, reproductive freedom, voting rights, religious freedom, right to counsel, prisoner rights, and the rights of the poor. Five cases on which he worked have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. He is also currently a Public Interest Fellow and an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Law School. Professor Steinberg is the founding director of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Clinic at Wayne State University Law School, where he also has served as an adjunct public interest professor. He often speaks on civil liberties issues at universities and conferences across the country and is frequently interviewed by local and national media. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Harvard Law School's Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship and Wayne State University Law School's Treasure of Detroit Award. Professor Steinberg earned a B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University in 1983 and graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif from Wayne State Law School in 1989. Following law school, he clerked for the Hon. Marilyn Kelly on the Michigan Court of Appeals. Before joining the ACLU staff, he worked in private practice for seven years, specializing in civil rights litigation and civil and criminal appeals. Professor Steinberg is a former high school teacher and coach, community organizer, and president of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. He is also a founding board member of Michigan Peace Action and currently serves on the board of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights.

Scott Sylak

Scott A. Sylak is the Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. Since joining the Board in December 2010, he has focused his efforts on improving and expanding behavioral health services provided to all Lucas County residents. For the 18 years prior to this appointment, Mr. Sylak was the founding Executive Director of Lucas County Treatment Alternatives to Street Crimes (TASC), Inc. A Toledo native, Mr. Sylak received a Master of Public Administration in 1990 from the University of Toledo and he is a licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor. In addition to being a current member of many local workgroups and committees, Mr. Sylak is active at the state level having a leadership role in the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.

Sara Zampierin

Senior Staff Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center Sara Zampierin is a senior staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center and works with the SPLC's Economic Justice Project, seeking to address the public and private systems that trap people in poverty and punish them simply for being poor. Before joining the SPLC, Sara served as a law clerk to Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She earned a B.A. from Rice University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.