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Reentry in California – Overcoming Legal Barriers to Community Reintegration 2019

Speaker(s): Aminah Elster, Asher Waite-Jones, Chloe Noonan, Craig Davis, Deborah Thrope, Jael Myrick, Jennifer Friedman, John Jones III, Joseph Calderon, Juan Cabrales, London Croudy, Maureen Kildee, Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza, Riana King, Rose Cahn, Sonja Tonnesen-Casalegno, Tamisha Walker
Recorded on: Aug. 7, 2019
PLI Program #: 248850

Rose Cahn is a nationally recognized expert in the field of immigrant post-conviction relief and oversees the ILRC’s pro bono Immigrant Post-Conviction Relief Project. With over 15 years of experience working in the field of immigrant rights, and a special focus on the intersection of criminal and immigration law, Rose is a frequent speaker and trainer on the subject. Rose has co-authored several manuals including, California Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants (Tooby) and Helping Immigrant Clients with Proposition 47 and Other Post-Conviction Legal Options: A Guide for Legal Service Providers (Californians for Safety and Justice). Rose spearheads federal, state, and local advocacy to help advance the rights of immigrants with criminal convictions and assist providers in understanding how to better serve this population. She is one of the principle drafters of California Penal Code § 1473.7, a landmark piece of legislation that created a legal mechanism to vacate unconstitutional convictions. She serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Clean Slate Clearinghouse and is on the Steering Committee of the American Immigrant Representation Project.

Before working at the ILRC, Rose was a Senior Soros Justice Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she founded the nation’s first Immigrant Post-Conviction Relief Project. Prior to that, she litigated post-conviction relief cases at the Law Office of Norton Tooby and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Rose graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she was the recipient of the Root Tilden Kern scholarship.

Deborah Thrope is the Deputy Director of the National Housing Law Project (NHLP). Deborah’s work focuses on federal, state, and local policy advocacy to preserve affordable housing and tenants’ rights. She provides training and technical assistance to advocates working with low-income tenants and serves as an advisor and editor of NHLP’s seminal publication, HUD Housing Programs: Tenants Rights. Deborah has testified before Congress about increasing economic mobility in the Housing Choice Voucher program and improving living conditions for public housing residents. Before she joined NHLP, Deborah was a Senior Attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and represented clients with disabilities facing eviction and civil commitment.

Maureen Kildee is a staff attorney and clinical supervisor at the East Bay Community Law Center, serving indigent people in Alameda County seeking record clearing relief. Maureen received her B.A. from the University of Delaware, her A.A. from Cabrillo College, and her J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2001.

Maureen joined the East Bay Community Law Center’s Clean Slate Practice in 2017, where she focuses on removing barriers to employment and civic engagement for people with criminal records. She also works with EBCLC’s immigration unit to provide specialized post-conviction relief to immigrants who are not U.S. citizens.

Maureen is an active member of the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County (JRC), and serves on the steering committee. The JRC is a group of local community-based organizations dedicated to creating a fair and just public safety system that invests in our communities, our families and our people.

Prior to working at EBCLC, Maureen spent ten years in private practice in Alameda County where she represented hundreds of indigent adults and children accused of serious crimes. She started her law career at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office.

John Jones III was most recently on the staff of Just Cities as the Director of Community and Political Engagement. As a father of three and third generation East Oakland resident, John is also a formerly incarcerated advocate who was unemployed and homeless for eighteen months. Seeking to improve his Community John became involved in organizing and advocacy to empower himself and others by using his personal story of pain, trauma, faith and transformation. He works hard to inspire young (and not so young) people, as well as fighting for policy change. John has worked on several local and state campaigns and ballot measures, including Measure FF, Measure Z, Prop 47, and Prop 57- all successfully passing. John is a passionate and vocal advocate for affordable housing, employment, violence reduction, ending mass incarceration and advancing racial equity. In his spare time, John enjoys time with his kids and can be seen/heard rooting loudly for the Oakland Raiders, Oakland Athletics, and the Golden State Warriors. 

Craig Davis is a consumer protection attorney based in San Francisco, CA. He has worked on several cases involving claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and California's Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), including a pending Ninth Circuit appeal defending the constitutionality of ICRAA. Before starting his own practice, Craig was an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP and regularly volunteered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a graduate of NYU School of Law.

Aminah is a mother of one and a survivor of domestic and state violence. She was released from the California Department of Corrections in 2017 after serving a life sentence for surviving abuse. In prison, Aminah earned two Associates Degrees: Liberal Arts & Humanities and Science & Math, a Paralegal Certificate with a focus in Family Law and Civil Litigation, and is currently a third year undergraduate at the University of California Berkeley. She continues to serve as an agent for change and advocates to free incarcerated survivors and to be the voice for those unjustly impacted by our criminal injustice system.

Asher Waite-Jones joined EBCLC’s Clean Slate Practice in 2019. Prior to joining EBCLC, Asher was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco, where he worked defending homeless youth in quality of life infractions and fighting for decriminalization of youth homelessness in the City and County. Asher graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law in 2016. During law school, he interned at the Bronx Defenders, the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office, and in the Immigration and Homelessness Units at the East Bay Community Law Center. Prior to law school, Asher worked as a paralegal for a nonprofit representing incarcerated people in federal civil lawsuits in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is committed to serving people facing structural oppression of all kinds, dismantling all hierarchical systems, ending mass incarceration, and moving towards the total liberation of all marginalized people. Outside of work, Asher is a reluctant Steelers fan, a karaoke superstar, and an amateur wedding dress consultant.

At age 21, Jael Myrick founded Standing To Represent Our Next Generation (STRONG) to strengthen our young leaders’ civic participation. From 2009-2014, Jael served as a Field Representative for (then) Assemblymember (now Senator) Nancy Skinner during which time he helped lead the initiative to bring the Clean Slate program to Contra Costa County. Jael was appointed to the Richmond City Council on February 4, 2013. He was elected in his own right in November 2014 and reelected in November 2016. Since joining the Richmond City Council Jael has been integral in establishing programs like the Richmond Promise which guarantees money for College to Richmond youth when they graduate High School and has played a key role in moving forward policies like Fair Chance Housing for people with criminal records. In February 2017, Jael was hired as Program Coordinator for the Clean Slate Practice at the East Bay Community Law Center. In addition to providing direct services to clients, Jael led efforts on behalf of EBCLC and a broad coalition of over a dozen organizations to pass AB 2138 this past year. AB 2138 allows individuals with criminal records the opportunity to access Occupational Licenses under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Chloe is the Associate Director of Legal Education at Root & Rebound. She received her J.D. in 2016 from Boston University School of Law, where she was a Public Interest Scholar.

Before joining Root & Rebound, Chloe provided technical assistance to communities in California seeking to establish more permanent housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness. Chloe also worked as a legal fellow in Chicago, where she defended low-income tenants in eviction cases and advocated for the preservation of affordable housing. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois.
Chloe received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Between college and law school, Chloe was a paralegal at LegalHealth, a medical-legal partnership of New York Legal Assistance Group.

In her free time, Chloe volunteers in a community garden and is an enthusiastic beekeeper with San Francisco Bee Cause. She also co-chairs the Queens’ Bench SF Juvenile Hall Project, through which groups of volunteers from the legal profession visit incarcerated children.

Jennifer Friedman is a Deputy Public Defender in the Immigration Defense Unit of the Office of the San Francisco Public Defenders. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Immigration Defense Unit represents detained noncitizens facing removal in San Francisco, CA and provides consultations to criminal defense attorneys and their noncitizen clients facing criminal charges. Jennifer was previously the Managing Director of the Immigration Practice at The Bronx Defenders, Bronx, NY, where she practiced immigration law from 2007-2017. While there, Jennifer participated in the implementation of the first-ever universal representation project for detained noncitizens facing removal proceedings, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. Jennifer is a graduate of New York University Law School and Smith College. 

Joe Calderon is a native of San Francisco. At the age of 23, he started serving a life sentence. After nearly 20 years incarcerated, he began to explore ways to give back to society upon his release. In 2013, Joe was appointed to the San Francisco Reentry Council by the Board of Supervisors, and has continued in this role ever since. He also served on the Equity Advisory Committee with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, with the mission of seeking equity for all people. He enrolled and graduated from City College’s Post-Prison Health Worker Certificate program, and works as a community health worker with Transitions Clinic in the Bayview. He has a passion for working with diverse and disenfranchised populations, leveraging his personal experience with incarceration to advocate the ideals of social justice and community investment. Joe is currently working on a degree in Public Health.

Juan M. Cabrales received his bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in 2015. As the proud son of Mexican immigrants and a first generation American, Juan is dedicated towards providing indigent and marginalized communities access to quality legal representation. As an undergraduate student, Juan worked on several public health research studies focused on mitigating health disparities among Latinx communities. He has served as a case manager for unaccompanied minors, working towards the goal of reunifying families across the U.S. He then transitioned into immigration law, providing direct legal services for immigrants seeking a secure and stable life in the U.S. Juan joined EBCLC’s Clean Slate Practice in 2018 with the goal of growing and shaping EBCLC’s first “Crimmigration” program. He hopes the program will allow indigent immigrants the opportunity to overcome barriers created by their criminal records and access to specialized representation that is often not an option for low-income individuals. In his spare time, Juan enjoys reading and exploring the great outdoors.

London was selected for the 2019 Elder Freeman Policy Fellowship after demonstrating her strength and passion working towards equity for those currently and formerly incarcerated in the U.S. As a formerly incarcerated women, she utilized her eight year federal prison sentence by facilitating women’s empowerment classes and penning her novel The Price You Pay. London has experience in acting and the arts—she’s competed in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s ACT-SO monologue, attended the American Musical Dramatic Academy, and volunteered at the American Black Film Festival. London’s goal is to create a documentary depicting the everyday struggles of those directly impacted by incarceration to highlight the fact that we are so much more than our formerly incarcerated status and #METOO’s. We are resilient!

Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza is juvenile reentry attorney at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office, where he provides a variety of civil legal services. These civil legal services include representation in school expulsion proceedings, special education advocacy, post-disposition representation of youth in foster care, and assistance with juvenile record sealing and expungement. Raúl was previously a Pride Law Fund Tom Steel Fellow at the National Center for Youth Law, where he advocated on behalf of LGBTQ youth involved in sex trades for survival. Raúl earned a B.A. from Tufts University and a J.D. from UC Berkeley, School of Law.

Riana King is Legislative Director to Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). She was selected as an Assembly Fellow in his office in 2015, and has been with the office ever since. She’s staffed dozens of bills in her tenure with the Assemblymember on topics ranging from health, transportation, public safety and criminal justice, including AB 2138 which reduces barriers to entry for individuals with a criminal record who are applying for a license. Before working for the State Assembly, Riana was a Communications Coordinator with the national non-profit Young Invincibles. She received her BA in Sociology from Occidental College in 2013.

Sonja is Deputy Director of Programs and a founding staff member of Root & Rebound, a nonprofit reentry legal advocacy center whose mission is to restore power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform and litigation — a model rooted in the needs and expertise of people who are directly impacted. Since its founding 7 years ago, the organization has reached more than 80,000 people through its California programs and services, and is working to expand its model nationally. Prior to Root & Rebound, Sonja received her J.D. from Berkeley Law School, where she advocated for survivors of domestic violence, criminal justice reform, and youth justice. During law school, she participated in Queer Caucus, the Women's Association, student government, and served an editor for two law journals, California Law Review and Berkeley Journal of General, Law & Justice. Sonja received her B.A. in Urban Studies and African Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and worked for an urban nutrition nonprofit in Philadelphia.

Tamisha Walker is a founding member and Executive Director of Safe Return, a campaign to secure the freedom and liberation of formerly incarcerated individuals. She has been a Richmond based community organizer and known advocate on issues related to mass incarceration and racial disparity in the criminal justice system since her release from incarceration in 2009. Tamisha organizes and coordinates Safe Return and its projects at the local, State, and National level. She is formerly incarcerated and shares a powerful personal story about the journey to healing and successful re-entry. Tamisha has six years of community organizing experience in a city impacted by trauma and economic inequality, including her own personal experience with trauma and poverty growing up in Richmond California. Her educational experience includes professional training in research and advocacy for the formerly incarcerated and their families, violence prevention strategies, and conflict mediation to reduce urban gun violence.