First Friday Forum: Disability Rights x Pretrial Justice
Recorded On: 03/05/2020
Along with various partners, the ACLU of Oklahoma recently filed a lawsuit against Canadian County, Oklahoma for their bail practices and treatment of individuals with disabilities pretrial. This groundbreaking case centers the unique needs of individuals with disabilities within a system that according to the complaint is, "violating well-established constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection." Join Zoe Brennan-Krohn of the ACLU, Talila "TL" Lewis, founder of HEARD, and Amber Smock of Access Living, a Strategic Ally in the Safety and Justice Challenge, for a conversation about the needs and rights of individuals with disabilities within the pretrial justice system.
This forum will have live captioning as well as a certified ASL interpreter, thanks to AccessLiving
Director of Advocacy, Access Living
Amber has served as Access Living’s Director of Advocacy since 2010. She is responsible for executing Access Living’s advocacy vision through policy, community organizing, and issue education, with support from across Access Living’s program departments. She guides Access Living’s strategic partnerships and significant networking efforts at the local, state, and national levels across a range of disability topics, including healthcare/home- and community-based services, housing, education, transportation, racial justice, immigration, and incarceration of people with disabilities.
Amber facilitates the federal-state working group Disability Power for Community Integration. She also supports international disability learning exchange, particularly through the U.S. Professional Fellows Programs. Amber is a skilled presenter and trainer, a member of ADA25 and Leadership Greater Chicago, and a recipient of numerous local and national awards for her disability advocacy.
Amber is a proud member of the Deaf community who grew up in mainstreamed schools, learned ASL as a young adult, and now relies on lip-reading, ASL interpreters, and video relay technologies for communication access.
Disability Rights Program Attorney, ACLU
Zoe Brennan-Krohn has been a Disability Rights Program Attorney with the ACLU since 2017. After earning her Bachelors in History from Brown University, Zoe was an English Teaching Assistant in the Fulbright Bosnia-Herzegovina program. She later went on to complete her JD at Harvard Law School in 2015. Upon completing her JD, Zoe was a Ford Fellow for the ACLU's Disability Rights Program and then a Judicial Law Clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals before returning to the ACLU in her current role.
Talila "TL" Lewis
Founder, Volunteer Director & Board Advisor, HEARD
Recognized as a 2015 White House Champion of Change and one of Pacific Standard Magazine’s Top 30 Thinkers Under 30, Talila engineers & leads innovative and intersectional social justice campaigns that illuminate and address grave injustices within our legal system that have gone unaddressed for decades. Talila’s advocacy primarily focuses on creating equal access to the legal system for people with disabilities & individuals who are Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled & Hard of Hearing. As one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases, Talila regularly presents at universities; testifies before legislative & regulatory bodies; and trains members of congress, attorneys, and law enforcement about this and other disability-related topics. As the creator of the only national deaf prisoner database, Talila advocates with & for hundreds of deaf defendants, prisoners & returned citizens. Talila has served as the volunteer director of HEARD since its inception, and Talila works in a number of different communities to combat mass incarceration, poverty and structural inequality. Talila is a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and a recent graduate of American University Washington College of Law who has received awards from numerous universities, the American Bar Association, the American Association for People with Disabilities, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Nation Institute, National Black Deaf Advocates and EBONY magazine, among others.