Steve Bell: Mr. Bell is a former lifer who served nearly seventeen years in California’s prisons before being released in 2011. He has since graduated magna cum laude from Western State College of Law and passed the California Bar Exam on his first try. He is awaiting the California State Bar’s “moral character” determination before he can be sworn in as an attorney. Mr. Bell regularly speaks on prison issues and serves on the board of the Prison Library Project.
Joseph Calderon: Joe 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. 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 graduated from City College’s Post-Prison Health Worker Certificate program and works as a community health worker with Transitions Clinic in the Bayview. His work was profiled by the Commonwealth Fund here.
James DeBacco: James began living his amends in 2006, following his initial parole suitability hearing denial. During that hearing, James experienced for the first time the detrimental impact that his crime had on his victim, family and friends. Confronted with a realization that the “ripple effect” of crime leads to perpetual suffering, James embarked on a journey of self-discovery – applying the principle “change begins first by putting remorse in to action”. James has authored the books Bridges to Freedom and Positive Interventions, in which he shares his life experiences while encouraging others to learn the value of change and developing positive social skills for community reentry.
Caitlin Kelly Henry, Esq.: Caitlin is an attorney and educator based in Oakland CA. She teaches criminal justice and specialized in FOIA, post conviction, and prison conditions work. Her website is an excellent resource for individuals advocating for people in prison.
James “Hawk” Lowden: Hawk is pursuing his Masters in psychology from San Francisco State University, and graduated with High Honors from San Francisco City College in Spring 2016. He also participated in Project ReMADe and volunteers for the San Francisco Reentry Council and the Adult Probation Department Leadership Academy. He also participated in Prisoner Reentry Network’s interviews with former lifers.
Vanessa Nelson-Sloane: Vanessa is the Executive Director of Life Support Alliance, an organization that monitors issues related with prisoners serving life sentences. LSA attends parole suitability hearings and meetings of the Board of Parole Hearings, testifies in favor of legislation, and recently has been included in CDCR discussions concerning reform of the parole hearing process.
Martin Walters: Marty is currently incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, where he leads the Hope for Lifers group and helps individuals anticipating a board hearing prepare for release.
Jeanne Woodford: Former Undersecretary and Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Ms. Woodford has advocated for rehabilitation since she began her career in criminal justice as a Correctional Officer in San Quentin in 1978. After her time at CDCR, she became the Chief of the San Francisco Adult Probation Department, and then the director of Death Penalty Focus. She was profiled in the New York Times and her courageous op-ed in the LA Times described the intractable issues within CDCR.