2019 Champion of Justice Award Winners
Candance J. Wesson
The Help Reentry Program
Candance Wesson is a product of the Kansas City, Missouri School District. She became a mother at the young age of 16 and was often told from family members and friends that she would not graduate; nonetheless, she graduated high school on time with her class and went on to attend a community college. In 2009, the job market shifted and jobs became difficult to find and maintain. So, in order to provide for her daughter and herself, Candance became involved in a tax scheme in which she ultimately pled guilty to, as a
During her incarceration, she
Upon release from prison, Candance was determined to reenter society and be a positive influence and contributor to her community. She sought employment with over 20 different companies only to be shunned and rejected due to her felony conviction. It then became crystal clear to her that her past mistake could possibly overshadow her future and her ability to help support her family. She was still determined to make a difference in her
Learn more about The Help Reentry Program.
Co-Founder & Vice President
Alliance for Safety and Justice
Robert Rooks is one of the premier criminal justice reformers in the country with more than 20 years of experience. His work in the political and legislative arena over the past two decades has achieved landmark wins in criminal justice reform. Robert is co-founder and Vice President of Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), where he leads state-based advocacy strategies across the nation. His leadership has been instrumental to the enactment of policies that are now reducing prison populations in California, Illinois, Florida
In each effort, Robert’s steadfast leadership has combined investing in people directly impacted while reaching out to liberals, conservatives and law enforcement to build diverse support. It has been a tremendous formula for transformation and success. To help train other leaders, in 2019, Robert established the Campaign Academy for Safety and Justice as a training program for justice reformers, especially people of color and those directly impacted by crime and/or incarceration, to develop high-level campaign expertise and skills. It just graduated its first cohort of 35 people, from grassroots community organizers to executive directors. Grounded in his personal experience of growing up in a community impacted by violence, his work to create trauma recovery centers for victims of violent crime has led to the opening of these centers across the country. Through his work with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ), Robert has built a powerful constituency of survivors nationwide who are advocating for policies that both reduce incarceration and increase survivor support. Previously, Robert served as the National Criminal Justice Director for the NAACP. Robert also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and St. Joseph’s College, and at Central Connecticut State University.
Learn more about the Alliance for Safety and Justice.
2018 Trailblazer Awards
Aramis D. Ayala
Kimberly M. Foxx
2017 Trailblazer Award
Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell
2017 Bipartisan Justice Awards
Rep Hakeem Jeffries
2016 Bipartisan Justice Awards
Senator Kamala Harris
Senator Tim Scott
2017 Champion of Justice Winners
Rep Jordan Harris