JAMELIA MORGAN, PRESIDENT
Jamelia (she/her) is the former Arthur Liman Fellow at the ACLU National Prison Project (NPP). At NPP, Jamelia worked on the ACLU’s Stop Solitary campaign seeking to end the practice of solitary confinement in our nation’s prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers through public policy reform, legislation, litigation, and public education. Jamelia is the author of a 2017 ACLU report titled Caged In: Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Harms on Prisoners with Physical Disabilities. She is a 2013 graduate of Yale Law School, where she was an active member of the Criminal Defense Project and the Detention and Human Rights Clinic. Jamelia is a 2006 graduate of Stanford University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Master of Arts degree in Sociology.
Rukia Lumumba (she/her) is a transformative justice strategist, the founding director of the People’s Advocacy Institute, co-director of the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement of Black Lives, and former campaign manager of the Committee to Elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba for Mayor of Jackson, MS.
Rukia has spent over 15 years defending the human rights of those inside prison cells, working with community and advocates to alter the landscape of injustice in American courts, prisons, and cities. She is currently co-chairing the JXN People’s Assembly to create a community led-governance model that advances and increases people center policy, practice, and power.
Rukia holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. She holds a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. and has studied law and politics in South Africa at the University of Forte Hare and the University of the Western Cape.
JULES LOBEL, VICE PRESIDENT
Jules Lobel (he/him) is the Bessie McKee Walthour Endowed Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is the former President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national human and constitutional rights organization headquartered in New York City. He has litigated numerous cases involving constitutional and human rights issues in the United States courts and has represented members of Congress challenging various presidents’ – both Democrat and Republican – assertions of executive power to unilaterally initiate warfare. Lobel has been involved in various cases challenging aspects of U.S. policy toward suspected terrorists, including Rasul v. Bush, arguing for habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees; Arar v. Ashcroft, seeking damages for a Canadian citizen who alleged that he was wrongfully rendered to Syria to be tortured by high U.S. officials; and Holder v. HLP, a Supreme Court case challenging aspects of the material aid to terrorism statute as violative of the First Amendment.
Lobel has authored several books, including Success Without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America, as well as numerous articles on international and constitutional law in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. In 2007, Lobel co-authored the award winning book, Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror with Professor David Cole, which won the first Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for exemplary scholarship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security.
Ashley Jimenez (she/her) has been a social worker in Philadelphia for over a decade. Her primary area of focus during that time has been medical and homeless/housing case management. She has worked with a wide range of populations, including the formerly incarcerated and their families. Ashley currently acts as the Director of Case Management/Social Services for Center for Hope, a city funded shelter serving single adult men and women experiencing homelessness. In her position Ashley is responsible for all programmatic endeavors, staff training and oversight, and ensuring all compliance for her department.
Ashley is an active member of Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement-Philadelphia Chapter, and the Philadelphia Home and School Council. In the area of advocacy Ashley has prioritized the issue of justice, working on campaigns such as Defund the Police and opt-out testing in schools. She has worked on political education initiatives and consistently participates in parent organizing endeavors. Ashley is a wife and the mother of four boys, and currently resides in the Germantown area of Philadelphia.
Lisa Freeland (she/her) is the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Tufts University in 1984 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1994. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After receiving her journalism degree, Ms. Freeland worked for American Lawyer Media, LP, where she served as Associate Editor of The American Lawyer magazine and as a reporter for San Francisco’s daily legal newspaper, The Recorder. After graduation from law school, Ms. Freeland served as a law clerk to the Honorable Timothy K. Lewis, then a member of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She was a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and staff attorney at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City before joining the Federal Public Defender’s office as a Research and Writing Specialist in 1999. Ms. Freeland is a frequent faculty member at local and national CLE programs, speaking regularly on sentencing issues, appellate advocacy, procedural issues in habeas corpus cases, and ethics, among others. She is a native of Pittsburgh and is active in her local community, having served on a number of boards, including the Urban League of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP, and the ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh. She is also a founding member of the Board of Governors of the Bar Association of the Third Federal Circuit and a past board president. Her practice focuses primarily on criminal appeals and habeas corpus cases.
ANITA COLON, TREASURER
Anita Colon (she/her) grew up in the SpringGarden section of Philadelphia and attended J.R. Masterman High School. She went on to attend Villanova University where she majored in Criminal Justice and obtained a Master’s Degree in Human Services from Lincoln University. Anita is a human rights and juvenile justice advocate currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Prison Society Board of Directors. She is also the Pennsylvania State Coordinator for the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth and serves on the steering committee of the PA Coalition for Fair Sentencing of Youth as well as the Board of Directors of Reconstruction, Inc.
In these roles, Anita advocates for juvenile justice reform in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States, specifically the elimination of juvenile life without the possibility of parole. Anita ‘s advocacy work came about as a result of her brother’s life sentence for a crime he was convicted of participating in on his 16th birthday. Anita has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the PA Senate and House Judiciary Committees concerning the elimination of Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentencing. She also recently served on the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission Juvenile Act Advisory Committee which provided a report recommending changes to the existing laws as they relate to juvenile offenders, and currently serves on the PA Lt. Governor’s Board of Pardons Advisory Council (LGBOPAC).
Jihad Abdulmumit (he/him) is the Chairperson of the National Jericho Movement, which supports political prisoners in the United States and works to win their freedom through amnesty. He is a community activist, playwright, and health care provider. He works as a Community Case Manager at a free health clinic and gives HIV/STI workshops in schools and prisons, does HIV testing in jails/prisons, and case manages HIV + inmates upon their release. He and his wife own their own community theater company – For Our Children Productions – which produces several original social/political theme oriented performances a year. He has an MBA with a concentration in Health Services from Strayer University.
Jihad was a domestic political prisoner and prisoner of war, and served 23 years of his life in prison for his involvement in the Black Liberation Movement. He joined the Black Panther Party at sixteen and eventually went underground in the ranks of the Black Liberation Army. Most of his time was served in Lewisburg and Leavenworth Federal penitentiaries. In the mid-seventies prior to his incarceration, Jihad was also the Coordinator of the Rochester Federation of Youth in Rochester, NY – a youth organization that sponsored community economic development projects and weekly political education and Black history classes, and worked with troubled teens.
KEMPIS GHANI SONGSTER
Kempis Songster (he/him), also known as Ghani, is a legal worker, organizer, and powerful public speaker. He served 30 years of a death by incarceration sentence in Pennsylvania after being sentenced as a child. Ghani is a founding member of Right 2 Redemption and the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration and former staff member of the Amistad Law Project in Philadelphia. He now serves as the Restorative Justice Program Manager for the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project.
CARL REDWOOD, JR.
Carl Redwood, Jr. (he/him) has served as chairperson of the Hill District Consensus Group and was Chairperson of the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement Coalition. Carl is a social worker and has participated in various community organizing efforts on the local, national, and international levels. He has been part time faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social work for many years.
ROBERT SALEEM HOLBROOK
Robert Saleem Holbrook (he/him) is the Executive Director of the Abolitionist Law Center, a law project dedicated to ending race and class based discrimination in the criminal justice system and all forms of state violence. Prior to being named Executive Director of ALC he was its Director of Community Organizing responsible for expanding ALC into Philadelphia. He also led ALC’s campaigns against Death By Incarceration (Life Without Parole), Solitary Confinement and State Violence. He has worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights to end Death By Incarceration sentences in the United States and the National Unlock The Box Campaign to End Solitary Confinement. 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. HRC advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He is also a co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania, an advocacy group fighting to end Life without Parole Sentences. He sits on the advisory boards of the Amistad Law Project and Youth Arts and Empowerment Project. While incarcerated, Saleem wrote extensively on prison abuse, social injustice, state violence and juveniles charged and sentenced as adults. His writings were featured in Truthout, The Appeal, San Francisco Bay View, and Solitary Watch. He was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense he was convicted of as a child offender.
Nia Holston (she/her) is a Staff Attorney with ALC. Born and raised in and around Philly, she is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania. She graduated from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar, participated in civil rights and youth justice defender clinics, led an organization that trains law school students to represent children at their school suspension hearings, and organized around racial justice issues on campus. Prior to joining ALC, she worked as a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Before law school, she worked as a paralegal at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.
Tanisha Long (she/her) is the Allegheny County Community Organizer for ALC. She holds a BA in English Writing and a minor in Legal Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Before her work with ALC, Tanisha organized the Black Lives Matter Pittsburgh and Southwest PA organization working to fight systemic racial injustice. Since 2008, Tanisha has organized rallies and direct actions centered around climate change, voting rights, and mass incarceration. She is also the founder of RE Visions, a nonprofit committed to creating a more equitable learning environment for students of color. Tanisha believes there is a power at the intersection of art & activism; she hopes to use her passion for storytelling to both center and better the lives of those impacted by our inequitable justice systems.
Bret Grote (he/him) is the Legal Director of ALC. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was recognized as the Distinguished Public Interest Scholar for his graduating class. Bret was also the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012.
Al DePiro (they/them) is ALC’s Administrative Manager. Their previous work in operations and administrative roles enables them to bring experience in bookkeeping, records management, and office management to ALC. Al has been active in prisoner support work since participating in the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Program. They are a part of Pittsburgh area projects, focusing on connecting incarcerated and non-incarcerated people in conversation and community.
Quinn Cozzens (he/him) is a Staff Attorney with ALC. He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. His work with ALC focuses primarily on ALC’s Release from Prison docket and ending death by incarceration. Quinn was the lead researcher and writer for A Way Out: Abolishing Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania
Amber Black (she/her) brings two decades of fundraising, communications, events, and public relations know-how to her work as the ALC’s Development Director. Her experience is grounded in supporting activists and their families (including US political prisoners), and movements for radical social change. She believes in the power of combining art + activism, and is especially passionate about the struggles against mass incarceration and for racial justice, immigrants’ rights, civil liberties, and sustainable and equitable foodways and natural resources.
John Thompson (he/him) is a social and political organizer with the Abolitionist Law Center, primarily working and advocating to eliminate death by incarceration, solitary confinement, and the release of all aging and geriatric prisoners. He is the founder and Executive Director of New Hope Community Services, a grassroots community organization advocating for both social and political issues. He is also the co-founder of Urban Inspiration, a community organization that provides resources, and mentoring to children and young adults. He has organized political campaigns for candidates in both state and national elections. John spent over 37 years in prison, after being convicted at the age of 17, and sentenced to death by incarceration. He has a degree in paralegal studies, and worked as a jailhouse lawyer for over 20 years while incarcerated in state prison. He currently sits on the Data & Safety Monitoring Board of the National Institute of Health and National Institute on Aging. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and young daughter.
John Rowland (he/him) is the Organizing Campaigns Manager for ALC, working primarily on the campaigns to end long-term solitary confinement and death by incarceration sentences in Pennsylvania. He received a PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012 and has taught in numerous prisons and prison education programs, in addition to organizing in various grassroots advocacy and power-building campaigns. A member of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration and the Human Rights Coalition, he believes in organizing that’s grounded in directly impacted people (inside and outside the walls) and also builds coalitions and broad long-term power.
Rupalee Rashatwar (she/her) is an ALC Staff Attorney based in Philadelphia. Rupalee received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, where she was a Public Interest/ Public Service (PIPS) Scholar, and she received her B.A. from The George Washington University. Rupalee interned at various organizations in law school including Community Legal Services, the Capital Habeas Corpus Unit at The Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union of DC, and the Public Defender Service of DC. Prior to joining ALC, Rupalee was a public defender at the Office of the Miami Dade Public Defender for several years where she represented individuals facing misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile charges. At ALC, Rupalee engages in post-conviction, class action, and civil rights litigation on issues ranging from solitary confinement to compassionate release. Rupalee is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Autumn Redcross (she/her) is ALC’s Movement Building Director and the founding Director of the ALC Court Watch program. Prior to joining ALC, Redcross served a one-year appointment as a Visiting Professor at Point Park University, following the success of her 2019 dissertation defense in the study of Philosophy of Communication and Rhetoric at Duquesne University. While at Duquesne, Redcross became the Inaugural Gaultier Community-Engaged Teaching Fellow for the Community Engagement and Learning Center. She also trained as a Democratic Conversations Coordinator through Everyday Democracy and completed her certification as an Inside/Out pedagogy instructor. Redcross attended the International Institute for Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, PA, adding to her understanding of democratic education, community-trauma informed engagement and restorative justice.
Dolly Prabhu (she/her) is a Staff Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow at ALC. Her fellowship is sponsored by McDermott Will & Emery. She is a 2020 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Her fellowship focuses on challenging probation and parole practices in Pennsylvania.
Dustin McDaniel (he/him) is ALC’s Finance Director. He is a 2012 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh School of Public and International Affairs. Dustin has led ALC’s efforts to link the prison abolitionist and environmental justice movements. He was the lead investigator and editor of No Escape, a 2014 report on environmental and health conditions at State Correctional Institution Fayette, as well as a lead organizer and attorney representing ALC in the Barroca v. Bureau of Prisons NEPA lawsuit to stop construction of a $500 million federal prison in Letcher County, KY.
Jaclyn Kurin (she/her) is an ALC Staff Attorney, barred in Washington, D.C. She received her J.D. from George Mason Law School in 2016 and her LL.M from UCLA Law School in 2019, where she specialized in Criminal Justice. She also earned a master’s in Advocacy Journalism from Georgetown University in 2010. Kurin has worked at a civil rights employment law firm and interned at Fair and Just Prosecution and the Office of the Public Defender in Rockville, MD. For several years, she volunteered at Offender Aid Restoration and taught classes to inmates at the Arlington County Detention Center in Virginia. Kurin also has published several law journal articles on prison reform, bail, and police misconduct. Additionally, Kurin worked at a Los Angeles civil rights law firm, where she helped establish a new claim for suing the police, which has been recognized in federal court. Kurin’s work at ALC focuses on pursuing claims against the Allegheny County Jail for its treatment of incarcerated community members.
Meghsha Sqawsan Barner (they/them) is a Paralegal at ALC. A former capital defense and civil rights attorney, they have spent the last decade supporting community in creating alternatives to the carceral system, focused on accountability and healing from harm outside of punitive state measures. They have organized jail support and legal observing throughout the US South, agitated for a non-police crisis response team in New Orleans, led support groups for survivors, and facilitated political education around prison abolition, transformative justice, and trauma-informed legal work. Meghsha’s work is decolonial, towards liberation, and grounded in a somatic understanding of how oppression and trauma live in the body.
Sergio Hyland is an Executive Assistant at ALC, as well as a writer, speaker, and political organizer in Philadelphia. He spent nearly 21 years in state prison – over five of those years in solitary confinement. During his time in prison, he was mentored by former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member, Russell Maroon Shoatz, whose mentorship politicized Sergio. As a result, Sergio began to write and speak publicly. Now, he has dozens of articles and essays in publication. In addition to his activism, he also maintained a regular correspondent position with Prison Radio – all while still incarcerated ( most of which was done in solitary confinement). Sergio has authored several articles on the importance of abolishing the “punishment clause” in the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution. His work on this issue has been published in outlets including the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, THE MOVEMENT magazine – the official publication of the Human Rights Coalition in Pennsylvania – where Sergio is also the Editor-In-Chief.
Sam Lew (she/her) is the Philly Jails Organizer for ALC, fighting against human rights abuses in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons and fighting for decarceration. Prior to joining ALC, she worked as the Senior Communications Manager at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area and as the Policy Director at the Coalition on Homelessness where she focused on anti-policing, the decriminalization of homelessness, and housing justice. She also organized with the No New Jails coalition which successfully shut down SF’s County Jail No. 4.
connease Warren (she/her) is ALC’s Director of Communications.
A veteran comms strategist, connease is passionate about creating messaging that inspires meaningful change. Previously the Executive Director of Communications at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, she led bold, innovative campaigns centering racial justice and abolitionist praxis within the field of social work. connease believes there isn’t a tweet too short or an annual report too long to leverage the power of narrative and its ability to deepen human connections. When she isn’t dreaming up ways to advance abolitionist conversations, ideas, and actions, you can find connease reading poetry, singing (too) loudly, practicing yoga, roller skating, hiking, or writing her forthcoming memoir.