BY: | DATE: Dec 01, 2022
Youtube video title slide reading "Why Clemency Works" besides folded hands with a click-to-watch icon

The Defenders Clinic partnered with the Craig Newmark School of Journalism for a special event on Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The event highlighted the excellent work that the Defenders Clinic has been able to do in the clemency space, but one of the glaring statistics is that they are able to represent, at most, 15-20 clients per year, and they get daily requests for help. Professor Steve Zeidman estimates that they have received over 2,500 requests for help with clemency petitions since they began doing this work. This need for more advocacy and more people power to drive the movement created Zeidman’s The Second Look Project.

Judy Clark speaks into the microphone during the panel discussion


A panel discussion featuring Defenders Co-Director Professor Steve Zeidman was joined by Greg Mingo, Richard “Lee” Chalk, and Judith Clark, people the Defenders worked with to obtain clemency, among others, focused on “the unchallenged and awesome power allotted to the governor to temper justice with mercy.” The conversation explored what needs to change in politics and public understanding to engage and motivate governors fearful of using their power as they anticipate public backlash. One solution: conversations and videos that center people who have won clemency and offer examples of how it benefits society as well as the systems they leave behind.

Two key ways to help

  • Give financial support for building out the staffing and infrastructure of this clemency initiative
  • Provide and increase connection with those involved in the clemency process (incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, attorneys, families of those applying for clemency, families of victims) to understand the complexity and value of clemency.

A CUNY Law group of faculty, Defenders Clinic members, allies, and people they have helped win clemenyProfessor Nicole Smith Futrell, right, speaks with a groupProfessor Steve Zeidman, Dean Suda Setty, Richard “Lee” Chalk mingle at the event