Monday, October 5th 2020
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Join us to hear from a diverse roster of Philadelphia elected officials, public servants and activists united on the need for a more just approach to prisons, reentry and health.
Please also join us for a moment of silence for the countless named and nameless victims of police brutality.
To break up the day we will have a performance from Sistahs Laying Down Hands Collective Duo
Director, Institute for Community Justice
Assata Thomas is Director of the Institute for Community Justice (ICJ), a Program of Philadelphia FIGHT. As Director, Ms. Thomas oversees the effective execution of ICJ’s aims to provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals, families, and communities who are impacted by mass incarceration.
Ms. Thomas has over two decades of experience in the social services field which commenced with her training as a Corrections Officer with the State of New Jersey, during which time she held the distinction of having been the first female President of the Corrections Officers Training Academy of New Jersey. She left the NJ Department of Corrections in order to pursue studies at Rutgers University (and while still her raising children). Parallel to her studies she also worked part-time with a wide range of social services programs – from protecting troubled youth to aiding homeless veterans. Ms. Thomas received a BA Degree with honors in African American and Urban Studies (minor in Sociology). She thereafter was Director of a Camden- based re-entry program.
Ms. Thomas maintains an unflagging commitment to social justice and building a society emancipated from the socially inequitable and [callous/profoundly destructive] system of mass incarceration; a society where even the most vulnerable communities have equal and unrestricted access to healthcare, to justice and to unqualified protection of their safety and security.
Ms. Thomas is a passionate advocate on behalf of those affected by mass incarceration; and, moreover, having lived through the experience of a felony conviction, is uniquely qualified to speak with credibility and authority to the issues facing all who have been affected by the system – such as the challenges faced by returning citizens for a fair chance at social rehabilitation, healthy reintegration back into society and the chance to (re)design their futures and destinies. Ms. Thomas’ personal trajectory and hard won successes fuel her passion to help others and they offer a concrete and inspiring example for others that, despite the odds, success is possible.
Ms. Thomas continues to partner with several grassroots organizations rooted in social justice, criminal justice reform and ending death by incarceration. She further demonstrates her civic advocacy through her membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
District Attorney, City of Philadelphia
Lawrence S. Krasner was officially sworn in on January 2, 2018, as the City of Philadelphia’s 26th District Attorney. Before being elected District Attorney, Mr. Krasner served of-counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt, and Flores, LLC. Larry was born in 1961 in St. Louis, the son of a World War II veteran and author father and evangelist mother.
Mr. Krasner attended public school in the St. Louis and Philadelphia areas. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1983 and his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1987, where he was selected to the Stanford Law Review. After multiple offers of employment in prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices throughout the country, he worked as a public defender in Philadelphia from ’87 – ’91 and was then promoted to the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia (’91- ’93). In 1993 he started his own private practice, specializing in criminal defense and police misconduct matters. He has remained in private practice ever since. During that time, Mr. Krasner has tried thousands of bench and jury trials in criminal and civil court in the Philadelphia area as well as other counties and states.
Throughout his 30 year career, Mr. Krasner has also proudly demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social justice, having defended protesters pro bono who were involved with movements including ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, progressive clergy with POWER, Casino-Free Philadelphia, DACA Dreamers, Decarcerate PA, anti-gun clergy with Heeding God’s Call, anti-poverty and homelessness advocates with Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Occupy Philly and Reclaim Philadelphia, and Grannies for Peace, among many others.
United States House of Representatives Congressman, PA 3rd District
Congressman Dwight Evans represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South and Center City Philadelphia. He was first elected in a special election in November 2016. Before that, he served as a state representative for 36 years, and earned a reputation as a pragmatic leader who knows how to put public policy above politics and make ideas matter. He made history in 1990 when he became the first African-American chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, a position he held for two decades.
Throughout his public service career, Congressman Evans has worked tirelessly to expand and broaden access to economic and educational opportunities for all Philadelphians. He currently serves on the Ways and Means Committee and as vice chair of the Small Business Committee. He is also an at-large member of the executive committee of the Congressional Black Caucus. In his first term, he had one of his bills passed and signed into law, a true accomplishment for a freshman in the minority party. The new law is designed to reduce costs for small business owners who apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. He also hosted a roundtable in Philadelphia on small business issues with then Ranking Member, now Chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, Nydia Velazquez.
In his first term, he also supported a criminal justice reform bill which became law, the First Step Act. His efforts also included hosting a roundtable on the subject in Philadelphia with then Ranking Member, now Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler. Congressman Evans is also a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
In the new Democratic-majority House, Congressman Evans is looking forward to advancing priorities such as protecting health care and reducing health disparities, and advocating for gun reform, criminal justice reform and economic development, including supporting small businesses.
A longtime resident of the West Oak Lane neighborhood, he is a graduate of Germantown High School, the Community College of Philadelphia and LaSalle University. Congressman Evans will keep working to rebuild Philadelphia, and America, block by block!
Jacqueline Bailey-Davis, PhD
Staff Inspector, Philadelphia Police Department
Dr. Jacqueline L. Bailey-Davis is a native Philadelphian who recently earned a Doctor of Public Administration Degree from West Chester University while also serving as a full-time Staff Inspector with the Philadelphia Police Department. Her dissertation entitled, “An Analysis of Complaints against Police in Philadelphia: A Case for Social Equity and Collaborative Governance in Police Reform,” underscored racial disparities of complainants when sustaining allegations against officers in a Department which has operated in an autonomous, vertical, and closed system of investigations for more than two centuries. During her 23-year tenure in the Philadelphia Police Department, Bailey-Davis rose through the rank in file while working in the patrol, investigations, and training bureaus. In 2015, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey appointed Bailey-Davis to oversee the Department of Justice Collaborative Reform Initiative, which garnered national praise in police reform.
In addition to her police duties, Bailey-Davis simultaneously served a combined 12 years in academia as an adjunct and criminal justice coordinator and behavioral health administrator at Alvernia University and Community College of Philadelphia, respectively. She is the recipient of various local, national, and distinguished awards from the Philadelphia Police Department, Alvernia University (Adjunct of the Year), The National Liberty Museum Awards of Valor (Individual Meritorious Community Service), and the University of Cincinnati (Distinguished Alumni). Lastly, as a crusader for social justice and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Bailey-Davis has honored her life-long public service commitment via philanthropy by providing underserved Philadelphians and Cincinnatians with educational and vocational endowments to level the playing field of access and opportunity.
Keir Bradford-Grey, Esq.
Chief Public Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia
Keir Bradford-Grey began her tenure as Chief Defender in September 2015, following service as Chief Defender of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
At the Defender Association, Ms. Bradford-Grey focuses on serving the citizens of Philadelphia through innovative programs that empower communities and ensure that justice is fair and final. Ms. Bradford-Grey has spearheaded initiatives to help clients develop skills to successfully re-enter their communities after serving their time in the justice system.
She has established partnerships with others in the community – from judges to prosecutors to nonprofits – to advance client-centered representation, empower individuals to advocate for themselves at every stage of the system, and make communities stronger and safer. These efforts include bringing participatory defense – a dynamic community-driven criminal justice reform program – to both Montgomery County and Philadelphia. Ms. Bradford-Grey also devotes time and resources toward “pre-entry” so that people facing charges receive critical assistance and services to support fair and just outcomes over routinely incarcerating people before trial.
Ms. Bradford-Grey has achieved unprecedented success in the fight for parity for Defender Association staff. Through relentless efforts, she has proven that the work the Defender Association performs should be compensated at the same level of its justice system counterparts.
Prior to Ms. Bradford-Grey’s appointment at the Defender Association, she served as Chief Defender for Montgomery County (PA), an assistant federal defender at the Delaware Federal Defenders Office, began her career as an attorney as an assistant public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Ms. Bradford-Grey has dedicated her career to public interest work.
Ms. Bradford-Grey serves on a number of boards and associations, including President of the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD), a large subchapter of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA). The ACCD is a national community of public defense leaders dedicated to securing a fair justice system and ensuring high quality legal representation for people facing loss of life, freedom, or family.
A Boston native, Ms. Bradford-Grey earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Albany State University and received her law degree from Ohio Northern University School of Law.
Hon. Stephanie Sawyer
Judge, Court of Common Pleas
Although Stephanie M. Sawyer was born in Queens, New York, her home city is the City of Philadelphia where she was raised and has continuously lived since she was a very little girl. She is a product of the Philadelphia public school system attending J.R. Masterman, Philadelphia High School for Girls, and she went on to earn her undergraduate and law degrees from Temple University. Judge Sawyer is a single parent of two children who was raised by a single parent where she learned her commitment to the community and her understanding that hard work is the key to success.
Judge Sawyer is currently a Municipal Court Judge in Philadelphia County, having her judicial nomination confirmed by the state senate on June 30, 2014, she was then sworn in on July 16, 2014. Prior to this appointment, Judge Sawyer was the sole practitioner of her own Center City based law office which she maintained for almost two decades.
Judge Sawyer began her legal career while still in law school, interning briefly in the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defenders’ Office, with a sole practitioner, and finally the Law Department for the City of Philadelphia. After graduation in 1991, Judge Sawyer became an Assistant City Solicitor in Philadelphia’s Law Department where she quickly developed her skills as a superior litigator. During her 5 year tenure with the City, Judge Sawyer successfully negotiated resolution to countless personal injury claims, conducted scores of depositions further solidifying her effective style of witness examination, as well as presenting and winning hundreds of arbitrations, hearings and trials in both state and federal courts.
While practicing law in the public sector had its rewards, Judge Sawyer did not feel she was helping people on a personal level. Judge Sawyer has always had a passion for championing the causes of regular folks who make up the community in which she lives and raises her 2 children; thus, she opened her law office in 1996 where she practiced until her elevation to the bench. During her practice, she continued to fight for fairness in the areas of Family Law, Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination Law and Personal Injury Law. Since her appointment, Judge Sawyer prides herself in providing fairness upon which every Philadelphian who comes before her can rely.
Robert “Saleem” Holbrook
Robert “Saleem” Holbrook is the Executive Director of the Abolitionist Law Center. The ALC is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States. Abolitionist Law Center litigates on behalf of people whose human rights have been violated in prison, educates the general public about the evils of mass incarceration, and works to develop a mass movement against the American punishment system by building alliances and nurturing solidarity across social divisions.
He is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition, an organization with chapters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that is composed of family members of prisoners and which advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He also sit on the advisory boards of the Amistad Law Project and Youth Arts and Empowerment Project, and is a member of 1Hood, a movement of socially conscious hip hop artists and community activists, for which he started a prison chapter called 1Hood United to help mentor youth in Pennsylvania’s state prisons. He has a degree in paralegal studies and has written extensively on issues related to prison abuse, social injustice and juveniles charged and sentenced as adults. He was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense he was convicted of as a child offender.