Innocent Until Proven Poor: Fighting the Criminalization of Poverty (2016)


February 19-20, 2016

Thank you to everyone who joined us at our MJR&L Symposium 2016 on Feb. 19-20! We are pleased to share with you the wealth of resources including presentation videos, cases, filings, and other resources to aid in the struggle to end the criminalization of poverty and minority status.


Friday, February 19, 2016


Please see Program Details for full program descriptions.

Friday, February 19th, 2016

9:30-10:30 a.m. // Check-In & Refreshments 

10:30-10:45 a.m. // Introductory Remarks & Warm Up

10:45-11:30 a.m. // Keynote Address 

                  Vanita Gupta, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

11:45am-1:00 p.m. // Panel 1: Policing & Regulating the Poor

                  Tristia Bauman, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

                  Kami Chavis Simmons, Wake Forrest Univ. School of Law

                  Vivek Sankaran, Univ. of Michigan Law School

                  Jonathan Smith, UDC School of Law

                  Moderated by Margo Schlanger, Univ. of Michigan Law School

1:00-2:00 p.m. // Lunch 

2:15-3:30 p.m. // Panel 2: Jailing the Poor                     

                  John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney

                  Cynthia Jones, American Univ. Washington College of Law

                  Alec Karakatsanis, Equal Justice Under Law

                  Reuben Miller, Univ. of Michigan School of Social Work

                  Moderated by Eve Brensike Primus, Univ. of Michigan Law School

3:45-5:00 p.m. // Breakout Sessions

Breakout #1: Combatting the Criminalization of Poverty in Michigan: Successes and Challenges Across the Many Issues We Face 

                  Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan

                  Desiree Ferguson, Michigan State Appellate Defender Office

                  Jonathan Sacks, Michigan Indigent Defense Commission

Breakout #2: Movement Lawyering 

                  Purvi Shah, Center for Constitutional Rights

                  Amanda Alexander, Univ. of Michigan Law School

Breakout #3: Profiting Off the Poor 

                  Sara Zampierin, Southern Poverty Law Center

                  Sarah Geraghty, Southern Center for Human Rights

Breakout #4: From Foster Care to Felony: An Examination of How School Decision Making Plays a Critical Role in the Criminalization of Abused and Neglected Youth 

                  Elizabeth Bowker, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan

                  Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan

                  DaQuann Harrison, Youth Action of Michigan

5:15-6:15 p.m. // Day 1 Reception 

                  Martha Jones, Univ. of Michigan Law School

Saturday, February 20, 2016

8:00-9:00 a.m. // Check-In & Refreshments 

9:00-10:15 a.m. // Workshops Round 1

Workshop  #1: A Local Community’s Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Jail Incarceration and Criminal Justice Racial Disparities 

                  Aneel Chablani, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

                  Carol Contrada, Lucas County Board of Commissioners

                  Judge Timothy Kuhlman, Toledo Municipal Court

                  Scott Sylak, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County

                  Holly Matthews, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC)

                  Sean McNulty, Lucas County Public Defender’s Office

Workshop #2: How Public Defenders Can Fight the Criminalization of Poverty

                  Marilena David-Martin, Michigan State Appellate Defender Office

                  Colin Reingold, Orleans Public Defenders

Workshop #3: Winning Legal Challenges to the Criminalization of the Poor: Pay-or-Stay Sentencing, Panhandling, ‘Homeless Kidnapping,’ Welfare Drug Testing, and Living on Public Land 

                  Mike Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan

10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. // Workshops Round 2

Workshop #1: Building a National Racial Justice Advocacy Capacity 

                  Aneel Chablani, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

                  Kimberly Merchant, Mississippi Center for Justice

                  Ellen Hemley, Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law

Workshop #2: The Ohio Model for Combatting Modern Debtors’ Prisons

                  Mike Brickner,   ACLU of Ohio

                  Jocelyn Rosnick, ACLU of Ohio

Workshop #3: Michigan’s Online Court Program: Enhancing Access and Fairness with Technology

                  J.J. Prescott, Univ. of Michigan Law School

                  Max Bulinski, Univ. of Michigan Law School

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. // Lunch & Day 2 Keynote Remarks

                  Sarah Geraghty, Southern Center for Human Rights

1:15-2:15 p.m. // Workshops Round 3

Workshop #1: Housing, Not Handcuffs: Finding Constructive Solutions to Homelessness 

                  Tristia Bauman, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

Workshop #2: Introduction to Litigating Bail 

                  Alec Karakatsanis, Equal Justice Under Law

Workshop #3: Making a Buck While Making a Difference

                  Al Gerhardstein, Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA

2:30-3:00 p.m. // Next Steps Brainstorm & Closing Remarks            

                 Colin Reingold, Orleans Public Defenders