On Wednesday, May 1 PWA will host an event dedicated to Criminal Justice Reform in Michigan. The focus will be the ACLU's Smart Justice Campaign which aims to combat systemic racism in our criminal justice system and reduce the jail and prison population by 50%. Before the event, get to know our featured speakers:
Heather Garretson is a Campaign Coordinator for the Smart Justice Campaign. As a federal prosecutor, Heather witnessed the many flaws in the criminal justice system. From her experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, she knows that justice is often not just.
In addition to her experiences in the courtroom, she’s also been a law school professor. Her wealth of experience gives Heather the ability to knowledgeably consider the issue of crime and punishment from multiple perspectives, but the bottom line for her is reflected in a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Richard Griffin is the Grand Rapids Field Organizer for the ACLU of Michigan’s Smart Justice campaign. At the age of 16, he was sentenced to life in prison for a drug-related homicide. After just two years behind bars, he knew he had to change his ways.
"When I was 18, I vividly remember sitting in a cell and blaming others for my life," said Richard. "But the common denominator in everything that went wrong was me. I knew then I had to stop blaming and take responsibility, and this changed my entire outlook on life."
After spending 23 years locked up, the corrections department recognized that Richard was a changed man, and he was released. With his new freedom, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to improving the lives of others. For him that meant helping fix the criminal justice system.
Wednesday, May 1st
5:00 – 5:30 pm Registration
5:30 – 7:00 pm Program and Q&A
25 Sheldon Blvd. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503