Two Los Angeles residents who play key roles in
programs aimed at helping federal and state inmates as they make the transition
out of prison were honored today at the White House.
Sabra Williams, an actress and founder/director of The Actors’ Gang
Prison Project, and Roby So, a Re-Entry Program Manager at the Executive
Clemency Institute, are among 10 people who were recognized as “White House
Champions of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities.”
According to the White House, they were chosen “for their leadership
and tireless work to remove barriers to a second chance for those with a
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Senior
Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett were among those attending the
“No matter who we are, or where life takes us, we all deserve new
opportunities to succeed,” Garcetti said.
The ceremony was held in connection with National Reentry Week, which
seeks to highlight “the many ways that the Department of Justice and the
entire Obama administration is working to tear down the barriers that stand
between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance, leading to brighter
futures, stronger communities and a more just and equal nation for all,’”Lynch
Williams’ Prison Project conducts eight-week theater workshops inside
the California prison system. According to the White House, it is one of the
only remaining arts programs inside the state prison system, and it fosters
tolerance and nonviolent expression, and helps reduce recidivism rates.
So’s work at the Clemency Initiative, which is part of Stanford Law
School’s Justice Advocacy Project, supports federal and state inmates returning
home after long sentences. A former inmate himself, So was featured in New York
Times Magazine article on efforts to reintegrate former prisoners.
San Diego resident Samantha Galarneau, executive vice president of
California Marketing Group, which trains and relies on federal inmates in the
Federal Prison Industries Inc. work program to perform telemarketing functions
on behalf of its customers, was also among the honorees