July 2019

Civic Engagement, Leadership and Professional Employment after Incarceration

Christopher Poulos Christopher Poulos is an attorney and the Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council. Prior to his appointment, he served as Executive Director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice.  During law school, he served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. Poulos has advised United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and served on several task forces related to criminal justice policy. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law, where he was President of the American Constitution Society and represented children facing criminal charges as a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.

Tarra Simmons
Tarra Simmons is an Attorney and the Director of the Civil Survival Project at the Public Defender Association in Seattle, WA. Civil Survival project advances the rights of the formerly incarcerated through organizing, leadership development, legislative advocacy and direct legal services. Prior to law school, Ms. Simmons was incarcerated related to her own struggles with childhood trauma and substance use disorder. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in May 2017, magna cum laude, with the Dean’s Medal and the Graduating Student Award, but was initially denied the right to take the bar exam because of her own criminal history. It was national news when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in her favor, allowing her to take the bar exam and become a member of the Washington State Bar Association.

Event Timeslots (1)

Workshops Session V
Sharing their own experiences of going from incarceration and addiction to formally studying law, becoming lawyers and their current policy leadership work, attorney Tarra Simmons and attorney Christopher Poulus will discuss the importance of directly impacted leadership in criminal legal system reform advocacy. They will share personal stories of their barriers and pathways to higher education, civic engagement, and joining professional fields with criminal records.