The CAN-DO Foundation benefits from the advice, experience and guidance of our Advisory Board members, who collectively bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to our collective cause to bring about criminal justice reform, end mass incarceration and identify cases of nonviolent drug offenders who are seeking and deserve clemency. Together we CAN-DO this!
Sam Morison Former Staff Attorney at the Pardon Office
Mark Osler Former Federal Prosecutor turned Law Professor and Clemency Expert
Andrea James Co-Founder of National Council of Incarcerated Women and Girls
Eric Sterling Former Counsel U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary
Diane Goldstein Exec Board Member for Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Nora Callahan Founder of November Coalition – a prison outreach organization.
Norm Stamper Former Police Officer and Seattle’s Former Chief of Police
Beth Curtis Founder of Life for Pot and sister of John Knock serving Life for Pot
Dennis Cauchon Former USA Today reporter and founder of The Clemency Report
Jason Hernandez Founder of Crack Open the Door
Sam Morison provides invaluable insight and expertise with regard to the entire pardon process, having worked at the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) for 13 years.
Sam Morison has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a nationally recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights. He is a member of the North Carolina and District of Columbia bars, and is admitted to practice before several federal district and appellate courts. He graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and then served as a law clerk for Judge William Osteen, Sr. on the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. After clerking, he practiced law for five years with two leading law firms in Washington, D.C., where he handled a range of litigation matters in several substantive areas, including white collar crime.
Mr. Morison then served for 13 years as a staff attorney in the Office of the Pardon Attorney, which is the agency within the U.S. Department of Justice that is responsible for assisting the President in the exercise of the pardon power. In this position, he was responsible for reviewing literally hundreds of clemency applications for all forms of executive clemency, including pardon after completion of sentence, commutation (reduction) of sentence, and remission of fine; supervising the necessary background investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine whether an applicant was a suitable candidate for executive clemency; and preparing the Pardon Attorney’s recommendation to the President regarding the disposition of individual cases.
Prior to attending law school, Mr. Morison received a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from George Mason University, and more recently completed a Master of Arts in philosophy and social policy from American University. He has published widely in leading academic journals on a variety of topics, including the history and theory of executive clemency. He is also quoted frequently in the national press on the federal clemency process. Based on his experience, Mr. Morison is intimately familiar with all phases of the clemency advisory process implemented by the Office of the Pardon Attorney.
Learn more about Sam at his website www.pardonattorney.com.
Professor Mark Osler’s work advocates for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. In 2016, the graduating class chose him as Professor of the Year, in 2015 he won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, and in 2013 he was awarded the Outstanding Teaching award.
Osler’s writing on clemency, sentencing and narcotics policy has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and in law journals at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Georgetown, Ohio State, UNC, and Rutgers. His University of Chicago Law Review article (with Rachel Barkow) was highlighted in a lead editorial in The New York Times, in which the Times’ Editorial Board expressly embraced Barkow and Osler’s argument for clemency reform.
A former federal prosecutor, he played a role in striking down the mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio. He has testified as an expert before the United States Sentencing Commission and the United States House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Osler’s 2009 book Jesus on Death Row (Abingdon Press) critiqued the American death penalty through the lens of Jesus’ trial. His second book, Prosecuting Jesus (Westminster/John Knox, 2016) is a memoir of performing the Trial of Jesus in 11 states. He serves as the head of the association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, and held the Byrd Preaching Chair at St. Martin’s-by-the-Lake Episcopal Church in 2012. He has given sermons in five states and for three different denominations. His current work on clemency and mercy is rooted in ideals of the Christian faith. In 2011, he founded the first law school clinic specializing in federal commutations, and he trained hundreds of pro bono lawyers for Clemency Project 2014.
The character of Professor Joe Fisher in the Samuel Goldwyn film American Violet was based on Osler, and in 2014 he was the subject of profiles in Rolling Stone and The American Prospect. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Yale Law School.
Andrea C. James
Executive Director of Families For Justice As Healing
Andrea James has worked within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years from her days as a youth worker to a criminal defense attorney. She dedicated her time and resources to providing zealous representation to families within her community of Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 2009 Andrea was sentenced to serve a 24-month federal prison sentence. Even after a lifetime of work seeking justice on behalf of disenfranchised people, she was stunned at what she encountered upon entering the federal prison system as an incarcerated person.
“During my incarceration I was deeply affected by the great number of women who are in prison. Most of these women are serving very long mandatory minimum or guideline sentences for minor participation in drug possession or sales. Most of them are mothers. Their sentences are unreasonably long, the average being ten years. They have been in prison long after what should be considered fair sentences. They are provided limited educational opportunities. The women have managed to hold it together while psychologically and physically enduring such long sentences. They remain positive and hopeful amidst a torrent of regret, heartache, remorse, alienation, loneliness and a host of other problems mostly related to being warehoused in prison while their children struggle to survive.” –Andrea C. James
These are the women and children who motivated Andrea to establish Families for Justice as Healing (FFJAH), a criminal justice reform organization advocating for community wellness initiatives to replace the war on drugs and incarceration. FFJAH speaks from the perspective of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children. The war on drugs and the emphasis on punishment have been the leading factors behind mass incarceration, the separation of mothers from children and the irreversible disenfranchisement of families and entire communities.
Andrea has committed herself to fulfilling the promise she made to the women who remain in prison, to speak their truth, advocate for an end to the war on drugs and to support a shift toward community wellness.
Andrea is a current Soros Justice Fellow and the author of Upper Bunkies Unite: And Other Thoughts On The Politics of Mass Incarceration. In her free time, Andrea continues developing her projects, Coding for Justice, Real Women Real Voices, and EveryDay Shift. Andrea lives in Roxbury, MA with her husband and children.
Since 1989, Eric E. Sterling has been the President of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private non-profit educational organization that helps educate the nation about criminal justice issues and failed global drug policy.
Mr. Sterling is admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (inactive). He has served on the adjunct faculty of George Washington University and American University in Washington, D.C. He has contributed to seven books, including Cannabinomics: The Marijuana Policy Tipping Point (2010), How to Legalize Drugs (1998), and Entheogens and the Future of Religion (1997).
He is in his third term on the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council of Montgomery County, MD, and has completed two terms as Chair. In 2013, he was appointed by Maryland’s former Governor, Martin O’Malley, to serve on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, where he is chair of the Policy Committee. He is co-Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association Health Law Section Task Force on Substance Use Disorders. In 1999 he was honored with the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law by the Drug Policy Alliance (then the Drug Policy Foundation). In 2015, he was presented with NORML’s Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to reforming unjust marijuana laws and advancing the cause of personal freedom.”
Mr. Sterling helped found and serves on the board of directors of FAMM — Families Against Mandatory Minimums (Secretary), and Marijuana Majority (Vice-Chair). He also serves on the board of directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the Andean Information Network. Mr. Sterling serves on the advisory boards of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), DrugSense, Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), and Flex Your Rights Foundation. He helped found FEAR — Forfeiture Endangers American Rights in 1993, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in 1995, and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative in 2003, and served on their boards.
Mr. Sterling was Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary from 1979 until 1989. He was a principal aide in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, and other laws. In the late 1970s, he was an assistant public defender in Delaware County, Pa. He is a graduate of Haverford College and Villanova University School of Law.
Diane Goldstein is a 21-year veteran of law enforcement from Redondo Beach, California. She started as a patrol officer and later became the first woman lieutenant for the City of Redondo Beach. Her numerous assignments included multi-agency task force work in gang and narcotics investigations and high-risk critical incident management.
Goldstein is a co-founder of the California Association of Hostage Negotiators (CAHN). She is a recognized leader in the area of crisis negotiations and development of training guidelines and policies for use during critical incidents, including the development of California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) guidelines for the Basic Crisis Negotiator Course and Crisis Negotiations Core Competencies.
Long a believer in community policing, she was instrumental in the development and implementation of the School Resource Officer Program for Redondo Unified School District. She also worked to establish both a Student Law Academy at the high school as well as a Student Citizen’s Academy. She also volunteered as a mentor for the Bruce Randall Foundation as well as the Long Beach Bar Foundation Shortstop Program working with at-risk kids.
She is responsible for authoring citywide legislation and departmental policy as well as testifying at the request of Governor Pete Wilson in front of the California Council on Criminal Justice in 1995 on gang related violence.
She has received multiple awards including Officer of The Year (1998), Certificate of Commendation Service Award (1996), and the Herman Goldstein Excellence in Problem Solving Team Award (Honorary Mention 1996) by the Police Executive Research Foundation.
Since 2010, she has been a speaker for Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), a group of current and retired criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war. She is now an executive board member for LEAP. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and is currently a graduate student at the University of Irvine, CA. Goldstein has appeared on numerous national and international television and radio programs as a political commentator. She is the author of many articles and op-eds on the issues of drug policy, criminal justice, and law enforcement reform.
Her work has been featured at the Sacramento Bee, The San Francisco Chronicle, Alternet, Pacific Standard, and The Voice of Orange County. She is a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, Ladybud Magazine, Substance.com, and The Orange Juice Blog. She is a widely sought guest lecturer and has appeared in film documentaries that includes What’s in My Baggy, Legalize It, and American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny.
In 1997, Nora Callahan and her imprisoned brother, Gary Callahan founded the November Coalition, a group dedicated to ending the failed policies of the U.S. War on Drugs. Primarily people imprisoned on drug charges, the Coalition exposes the impact of current drug laws turning family member’s rage and sorrow into dignified, effective civil education and resistance.
The November Coalition authored the first free, and comprehensive guide to Grassroots Organizing, called Bottom’s Up in 1999, and for fourteen years, published The Razor Wire, a comprehensive newspaper chronicling the injustices of the drug war and national activities and activists intent on ending it. The November Coalition, long recognized for their collective work was accorded the 1998 Annual Thomas Paine award, the Committee of Unjust Sentencing award in 1998, the Institute for Policy Studies’ Lettlier-Moffitt Human Rights award in 2000, and in 2001 Nora Callahan was a co-recipient of the Drug Policy Alliance Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the field of citizen action.
Norm Stamper was a police officer for 34 years, the first 28 in San Diego, the last six (1994-2000) as Seattle’s chief of police. He has a Ph.D. in leadership and human behavior and is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing, and is under contract with Nation Books to complete another nonfiction book.
Stamper has a doctorate in Leadership and Human Behavior. He is the author of many articles and op-eds (New York Times, The New Yorker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, AlterNet, among others). He has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including The Colbert Report, and The O’Reilly Factor. He is also a regular blogger for The Huffington Post. He has appeared in the films 420:The Documentary, and The Union: The Business Behind Getting High.
Since his resignation from law enforcement, Stamper has called for the legalization of all drugs and the case-by-case release of persons incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses. He serves as an advisory board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) as well as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (LEAP), the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), on the Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Committee as well as Death Penalty Focus for Amnesty International, organizations working to end executions. Norm was a founding member of the National Advisory Council on the Violence Against Women Act, and is committed to eradicating domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.
Beth Curtis has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Ohio State University. Most of her adult career, she worked as the Financial Agent for a small Profit Sharing and Pension Plan, plus served on the governing boards of Non-Profit Organizations, Schools, Vocational Schools, Foundations and a Regional Health Care System.
In 1994 Beth’s family became educated about the War on Drugs and the US Justice System when her younger brother, John Knock, was indicted in the Northern District of Florida. Her brother was arrested in France on a warrant from the US Department of Justice in 1996. He was held there for three years in La Prison de la Sante for the US Department of Justice. In 1999 he was extradited to the Northern District of Florida. In 2000 he was convicted at trial for three counts of conspiracy – import, distribute marijuana and money launder. He was the last individual to be prosecuted and chose to exercise his sixth amendment right to trial. This was a non-violent marijuana only offense and Beth’s brother received a sentence of two life terms plus twenty years. He had no previous convictions.
Beth started to look for other inmates with sentences of this magnitude for nonviolent marijuana offenses when her brother’s appeals were completed in 2008. She started the website LifeForPot.com and started spending time and resources on mailings to Congress, activist groups, and professionals in the social justice community raising awareness that these egregious sentences were being served by nonviolent marijuana offenders, a continuing effort that Beth works on through LifeForPot.
In 2014 Dennis started The Clemency Report to focus his journalism expertise upon the issue he is most passionate about, justice for drug war prisoners.
Prior to, Cauchon was a national reporter and editor at USA TODAY for 26 years until taking a buyout in 2013.
Cauchon focused on criminal justice, economic issues, data analysis and the financial health of state and local governments. In a USA Today “Cover Story,” journalist Dennis Cauchon, was the first reporter to break the crack cocaine disparity issue and displayed extraordinary initiative and expertise in his reporting of drug issues, highlighted the de facto racial disparity in cocaine sentencing based on stiffer penalties for crack offenders versus powder cocaine offenders (Dennis Cauchon, “Sentences For Crack Called Racist: Terms Longer For Drug Used Primarily By Young Blacks,” USA Today, 5/26/93, 1A). In the May 26 front-page story, Cauchon interviews critics who note that the vast majority of crack offenders are black, while the vast majority of powder cocaine offenders are white. One gram of crack counts as 100 grams of powder for sentencing purposes, and, unlike powder, carries a mandatory sentence for mere possession without intent to sell. Crack cases are usually referred to federal court to insure longer sentences. In most cases, crack defendants are denied bond.
Additional noteworthy articles include a multi-part series of asset forfeiture abuses and an article in which the DEA confirmed targeting Deadheads.
Cauchon’s drug war reporting won the H.L. Mencken Award for Investigation Reporting and the Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the John Hancock Award for business reporting. Cauchon did a year-long Knight Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan Medical Center studying “The History of False Ideas.”
He is a University of New Hampshire graduate, the father of two boys and lives in Ohio.
Jason founded CRACK OPEN THE DOOR, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights tirelessly for anyone sentenced to Life Without Parole for nonviolent drug crimes in the federal system. CRACK OPEN THE DOOR advocates for federal sentencing reform and provides a voice for those who fell victim to the War on Drugs. Jason Hernandez 07056-078 was sentenced to life in prison and while serving what is essentially a death sentence, he knew he had to help not only himself, but everyone serving life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. On December 19,2013 President Obama granted Jason’s clemency petition that Jason personally wrote, without any legal assistance, and commuted his sentence to expire on August 11, 2015. He is currently living with his family, but he has never forgotten those he left behind.
Jason has been interviewed and filmed by numerous media outlets, including Al Jezerra, Huffington Post, USA Today, just to name a few. He has spoken to audiences numbering more than 1,500 and been published in Opinion Editorials calling for clemency for Latino women, such as Josephine Ledezma and Rita Becerra.