Founder of the Woods Foundation
One of the first things Swift Justice said to me was, “I hate lawyers.” I responded, “me too.” Swift made it clear that dozens of attorneys he had encountered over the years had made big promises, and failed to deliver. Even more problematic, these attorneys saw themselves as the bosses and belittled the input of the incarcerated people they were representing. Swift told me that if I wanted to really know the world of incarceration, and if I really wanted to make actual changes that matter, I would allow the people inside to lead, and I would execute their vision. I quickly and eagerly expressed my desire to be a part of his team, and to be a “movement lawyer.” Little did I know back then how much Swift and I would clash, with my legal education clouding my ability to trust his strategic leadership. I didn’t realize how wedded I had become to lawyering the way the elite universities taught us to. Over time, and through many lengthy disagreements and conversations, I began to unlearn bad habits of the legal profession. I began to see my role as carrying out the ideas of those most impacted by bad law – the people trapped in prisons. I am, proudly and humbly, a lawyer for the confined citizens of Alabama. It is their vision, their struggle, that I must honor through my work. Swift Justice has been patient enough to shape me into a lawyer that truly advocates for, counsels and defends those on the inside. After working with and for Swift, I understand that liberation will only be achieved when incarcerated people are given the tools they need to own their future.