When Piper Kerman was released from prison in 2005, she was driven to reform the criminal justice system through her work on behalf of incarcerated men, women, children and families.  On her journey, she met Reverend Vivian Nixon, who earned college degrees while in prison, and who shared her commitment to changing an unjust penal system.   On the same path, Bryan Stevenson has spent his entire career as a public interest lawyer fighting poverty, racial discrimination and unjust sentencing of children without parole for non-homicidal crimes in the criminal justice system.
These three dedicated, inspiring individuals will be featured speakers for MorseLife Health System’s upcoming symposium, “And Equal Justice For All:  Battle for Rights in America’s Broken Prison System.”  The presentation, which includes lunch, will be held on Tuesday, January 10th at 12:00 pm at The Mar-a-Lago Club, and will be open to the public for a cost of $250 (with preferred seating and sponsorship levels available).
Mary Alice Pappas, Senior Vice President, MorseLife Foundation, noted that the organization consistently strives to present timely, interesting and provocative programs for the community, a commitment that began in 2009 with “Shades of Gray,” an annual symposium on wellness and aging which will take a hiatus this year, she said.   “This year, we veer away from discussions of physical health and wellness in looking at one of our country’s most emotionally-charged societal issue – inequities in the criminal justice system and the impact on families,” she said.
Keith Myers, president/CEO of MorseLife Heath System noted that these three individuals have made significant inroads in helping women and children in recovering their lives during and after incarceration.  “What these three will tell us will be heart wrenching, compelling and eye-opening – and we believe that this will be among the most talked about programs in the County,” he said.
Piper Kerman’s experience became the national bestseller Orange is the New Black which is the basis for the Emmy-award winning Netflix series of the same name.  She has been one of Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless 50 which celebrates the world’s most inspiring women, a well-earned distinction.  A follow-up to Orange is the New Black will be published in 2018.
Reverend Vivian Nixon moved on from her experience to lead the College and Community Fellowship, a nonprofit that help the formerly incarcerated in their pursuit of higher education, leadership skills and career paths toward economic security.  She has been honored as a Soros Justice Fellow, Petra Foundation Fellow and Ascend Fellow with the Aspen Institute.  Reverend Nixon is currently working on a book to debut in 2018:  From Shame to Activism:  A Black Woman’s Journey Through America’s Systems of Mass Criminalization.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard School of Government, and has been awarded 26 honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy. In 2015, he was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people, and in 2016 was named in Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list.
These three individuals are helping men, women, children and families find their own voices, success and their paths home.  Learn more about their work at “And Equal Justice For All,” on January 10th.
To register or for more information, contact MorseLife Foundation at (561) 209-6103 or by email at foundation@morselife.org.