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Prison Law 2016


Speaker(s): Dori Lewis, Gabriel Eber, gabriel sayegh, Hon. Sarah Netburn, Jennifer J. Parish, Mary Lynne Werlwas, Michael B. Mushlin, Professor Philip M. Genty, Sara E. Liss, Stefen R. Short, Steven C. Wu, W. Bradley Wendel
Recorded on: Nov. 15, 2016
PLI Program #: 150528

Sara Liss is a Staff Attorney in the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) program at Disability Rights New York (DRNY), the Protection and Advocacy System for New York State. Protection and Advocacy agencies are authorized by federal law to provide legal representation and other advocacy services under federal, state, and local laws to people with disabilities. DRNY assists people with disabilities with disability-related legal matters such as obtaining reasonable accommodations, and also provide information and referrals.

Ms. Liss is a devoted disability rights advocate and has served clients in matters involving employment, housing, transportation, education, healthcare, jail and prison rights, and other issues. She represents clients in administrative and legal proceedings for a wide variety of disability-related matters. The majority of her clients have physical or sensorial disabilities.

Ms. Liss earned her J.D. in 2014 from the UCLA School of Law and her B.A. with General Honors in 2011 from the University of Chicago, where she was Phi Beta Kappa.


gabriel sayegh is co-founder and co-director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice.  Prior to launching Katal, from 2003 – 2015, sayegh worked at the Drug Policy Alliance, serving in many capacities, including as Managing Director of Policy and Campaigns.  In New York, he led the coalition effort to roll back the Rockefeller Drug Laws, designed the campaigns to reform New York’s marijuana arrests laws and pass medical marijuana legislation, and advanced efforts to reduce overdose fatalities through health-based approaches to drug policy. sayegh has appeared in a wide range of broadcast, online, and print media, including The New York Times, NY1, MSNBC,  NBC, Fox News, NPR, NY Daily News, and Associated Press. He is the author of numerous articles and coauthor of several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (coauthored with the New York Academy of Medicine) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform.  In addition to serving as lecturer in the graduate program of the Columbia School of Social Work, sayegh has been a guest speaker at hundreds of conferences, meetings and events across the country, and gave a TEDx talk  about the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and systemic racism.

From 2012 – 2014, sayegh led a unique collaboration between DPA and Charlotte Street Films to utilize the powerful, Sundance award-winning documentary about the war on drugs directed by Eugene Jarecki: THE HOUSE I LIVE IN. In addition to advising the film director and producers on policy and advocacy, sayegh and his team devised strategies to utilize the film as an advocacy tool to leverage local reform efforts and spur public debate about mass incarceration and the war on drugs. The collaboration included working with hundreds of community based organizations in using the film as a tool for education and advocacy – in schools, community centers, legislatures, prisons and jails, and more.

sayegh serves as a Trustee of the New York Foundation, and sits on the board of Atlanta-based community group, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide. He holds a Master’s in Public Health from the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.


Jennifer J. Parish is the director of criminal justice advocacy at the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project. In her current role, Jennifer employs systemic litigation, legislative advocacy, community education, and coalition building to address the problems wrought by the criminalization of mental illness. Alongside New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Jennifer represents plaintiffs in Brad H. v. City of New York, a landmark case which requires New York City to provide discharge planning to people receiving mental health treatment in City jails. Jennifer is a founding member of the NYC Jails Action Coalition, which promotes human rights, dignity, and safety for people in the City jails, and the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, which advocates for the enactment of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. She also coordinates Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement, a coalition that successfully advocated for a law limiting the placement of people with serious mental illness in solitary confinement in New York State prisons.

Prior to joining the Urban Justice Center in 2004, Jennifer worked as a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society of New York, and as a visiting associate clinical professor in the Criminal Law Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. From 2012 to 2016, Jennifer served as an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work.

Jennifer has testified before the New York City Council, New York State Assembly, New York City Board of Correction, and the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She participated in the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice and serves on the Department of Correction’s advisory boards on adolescents and young adults and crisis intervention teams. She co-authored When a Person with Mental Illness Goes to Prison: How to Help and has had opinion pieces published in The New York Times. She received the Felix A. Fishman Award for Extraordinary Advocacy from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the Frances Olivero Advocacy Award from the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.

Jennifer received her B.A. from Austin College, her M.S. in Elementary Education from Lehman College, and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.


Mary Lynne Werlwas is the Director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society of the City of New York.  The Prisoners’ Rights Project challenges constitutional violations and unlawful conditions in jails and prisons in New York, and advocates for individual prisoners on matters including access to medical care and mental health treatment, safety and protection from violence, disability and conditions of confinement..  She is class counsel in Nunez  v. New York, seeking to reform the systemwide misuse of force in New York City jails, and Handberry v. Thompson, remedying New York City’s failure to provide high school education to youth held in adult jails.  Previously she was an associate at Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain in San Francisco, specializing in labor, employment, constitutional and civil rights law, and the Leonard Sandler Fellow at Human Rights Watch in New York.  She served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Richard D. Cudahy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and to the Honorable Chief Justice Gubbay of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe in Harare.  She is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review.


Philip M. Genty is the Everett B. Birch Innovative Teaching Clinical Professor in Professional Responsibility at Columbia Law School. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1989. He teaches professional responsibility and civil procedure, and has taught a civil clinic for low income clients. His research interests are in legal ethics, prisoners’ rights, family law, and clinical education. He has taught and consulted on legal ethics and clinical legal education in Central and Eastern Europe and Israel. He has been a member of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York City Bar Association and has served as a volunteer Subject Matter Expert for the MPRE. He has developed legal resource materials for incarcerated parents and works with several organizations that assist women who are in prison. He received a Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2014, and Columbia Law School’s Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. Prior to coming to Columbia, he taught at Brooklyn Law School and worked as an attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services Corporation. 


Stefen R. Short is a Staff Attorney at the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, a litigation unit that challenges constitutional violations and unlawful conditions in jails and prisons in New York. Stefen litigates on behalf of incarcerated people with disabilities, mental health needs, and unmet educational needs.  Previously, he was a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights New York, New York’s Protection and Advocacy System (“P&A”).


Brad Wendel is Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. He received a B.A. from Rice University, a J.D. from Duke Law School, and LL.M. and J.S.D. from Columbia Law School, clerked for the Honorable Andrew J. Kleinfeld on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Fairbanks, Alaska, and practiced as a products liability litigator at Bogle & Gates in Seattle. Brad’s area of teaching and research specialization is legal ethics and professional responsibility. He is an editor of the widely adopted casebook, Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr., et al., The Law and Ethics of Lawyering, in its Seventh Edition; the author of a student textbook, Professional Responsibility: Examples and Explanations, in its Fifth Edition; and is a member of the drafting committee for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam.


DORI LEWIS  is a Supervising Attorney at the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the New York City Legal Aid Society.  She has brought litigation challenging the sexual abuse of women in New York State prisons, has served on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s Standards Development Expert Committee, and has submitted congressional testimony concerning the proposed PREA standards.  She has also pursued litigation leading to improved provision of general and special education to young prisoners on Rikers Island, improved medical services to women prisoners, and the substantial limitation on shackling of hospitalized prisoners including a bar on the shackling of women admitted for delivery.  She graduated from Barnard College and the Columbia University School of Law.


Gabriel Baron Eber is Senior Staff Counsel at the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington, DC, where he litigates cases seeking to improve conditions of confinement in prisons and jails around the country.  He has a particular interest in the intersection of corrections, medical care, and mental health.  He has served as an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center and is an Associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he teaches Prisons, Public Health, and Human Rights.  He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Correctional Health Care.


Michael B. Mushlin is a professor of law at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. He is the author of RIGHTS OF PRISONERS (West 4th Ed.), a four volume treatise on prison law as well as chapters, articles and op-eds on prison reform and a variety of other legal issues. Professor Mushlin was a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Legal Status of Prisoners which led to the promulgation of national standards for prisons and jails adopted by the full ABA. He serves of the board of directors and is past Chair of the Correctional Association of New York. Professor Mushlin also is past chair of the Osborne Association, and chaired the Corrections Committee of the New York City Bar Association where he led an investigation into conditions on death row in New York State.  Professor Mushlin is the co-chair of the ABA subcommittee on Correctional Oversight and in that capacity has testified by invitation to state legislatures and has made appearances on media and spoken on the topic. Before becoming a law professor, Professor  Mushlin practiced public interest law for fifteen years, first with Harlem Assertions of Rights, then with the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the New York City Legal Aid Society and finally with the Children’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Professor Mushlin was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and was named the James D. Hopkins Professor of Law, and Charles A. Frueauff Research Professor of Law. Professor Mushlin was a Visiting Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School for the 2012/13 Academic Year. He will be Visiting Professor of Law at Touro Law Center for the Spring 2017 semester.   Professor Mushlin currently serves by appointment of the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York on the Advisory Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure of the Office of Court Administration.


Sarah Netburn is a United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was sworn in on August 16, 2012. Before taking the bench, she was that Court’s Chief Counsel to the Office of Pro Se Litigation from 2010-2012. Judge Netburn was a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP in New York. She was graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. After law school, Judge Netburn clerked for the Hon. Harry Pregerson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of The Fortune Society and was the recipient of the Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Publico Award in 2004 and 2005. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.


Steven C. Wu is Deputy Solicitor General in the New York Office of the Attorney General. He joined the office in 2008 and previously served as an Assistant Solicitor General and as Special Counsel to the Solicitor General. Before joining the Attorney General's Office, he was an associate at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C., and a law clerk to Judge Diana Gribbon Motz on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.