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Meet the 2017 Finalists: Seattle Clemency Project

Posted by Jaimisa Gourley

Our Mission: The Seattle Clemency Project seeks to increase access to justice by matching deserving, reformed, long-serving inmates with pro bono attorneys to file for clemency.

What inspires you most about the work you do? Hearing the stories of our clients is very emotional. These are men and women who are willing to share the difficult, sometimes heartbreaking circumstances of their lives with us, and so many are still positive and focused on the future. And each time an attorney steps up to volunteer their time, I feel hopeful, both for their client and for what it says about our larger society. People want to help; they just need an opportunity.

What’s next for your organization? We have a fundraiser in November (please come, info on our website!) and that is taking up a lot of time, but after that, we have a ton of prison visits to do. Lots of men and women who sound like they might be ready for clemency on paper, which means it’s time for us to go meet them face to face. Our goal over the next few months is to continue matching clients and attorneys, but also to build up our relationships with reentry organizations and make sure we’re supporting our attorneys as best we can.

What have you learned from the SVP Fast Pitch process so far? Being able to distill our idea down into a five minute pitch is NOT a skill I had before this process. The temptation was always to explain, explain, explain. SVP and my coaches have definitely helped me focus, helped me pull out the most significant parts, taught me to answer the question, “Why should anyone care?” I hope people will, after they hear our pitch.

What are you most excited about on October 24thI’m just honestly excited for more people to know about us! We’re a small organization working on a rather obscure part of the criminal justice system, but once folks are aware of this problem, they want to help. I’m also making my return to the stage of McCaw Hall, where 11 year-old me once stole the show as solider #35 in PNB’s Nutcracker, so that’s exciting!

Websitewww.seattleclemencyproject.org

Check out the full list of finalists here. Join us at the Final Showdown on 10/24!

Photo credit: Lisa Bontje