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ARC Awards for Excellence in Mitigation

Each year, Advancing Real Change, Inc. presents awards to outstanding mitigation specialists and others who are advancing the field and changing the criminal legal system for the better.

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About our Awards

Each year, Advancing Real Change, Inc., presents several awards: The Muhammad-White Award, which honors a mitigation specialist whose body of work has profoundly advanced the field of mitigation. The Emerging Leader Award is given to a mitigation specialist who represents the future of the profession. The winners are selected by a committee of mitigation specialists and attorneys from across the country.

Learn more about our awards:

The Muhammad-White Award

Advancing Real Change (ARC), Inc. began the Muhammad-White Award in 2020 to recognize and celebrate a mitigation professional’s excellence throughout their career.

This award has been named for two clients who have played key roles in ARC, Inc.’s history. Malachi Muhhammad was sentenced to life in prison at age 17 and released in 2020. Our relationship with Malachi helped Advancing Real Change, Inc., better understand the critical role of the client relationship in achieving just outcomes and success after re-entry. And another client who helped us advance mitigation to areas beyond capital work. This award represents the many lessons we have learned from each of our clients and their legacy in the way we carry those lessons forward in our work.

The recipient of this award will be someone who has raised the standard of mitigation, not only for their clients, but also for the criminal defense community.

The Emerging Leader Award

Advancing Real Change, Inc.’s Emerging Leader Award recognizes and celebrates a mitigation professional in the early stages of their career. The honoree will be an individual who is laying the groundwork for excellence in their direct casework, and has the potential to move the field forward through dedication to high standards, commitment to continued professional development, and encouragement of other practitioners.

In short, the recipient of this award will be someone who represents the future of mitigation work.

Award Winners

Jessica Sutton

Muhammad-White Award

Jessica Sutton has advocated for individuals facing extreme sentences for over a decade. She has served as a mitigation specialist in capital cases in more than a dozen jurisdictions nationwide and at every stage of proceeding, from trial to clemency. Currently, Ms. Sutton is a Principal Attorney and mitigation specialist at the non-profit law firm Phillips Black, Inc., where she provides mitigation services and consultation to capital trial and post-conviction teams around the country. She also conducts life history investigations in cases with clients who were sentenced to life as juveniles and has seen the release of six clients since 2020.

Additionally, Ms. Sutton serves as an expert consultant for capital teams with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and as a mentor for the ACLU Scharlette Holdman Mitigation Mentorship Program. She has presented and lectured nationally and internationally on mitigation investigation and has published on mitigation-related topics in the St. John’s Law Review, the Syracuse Journal of Law & Civic Engagement, and in international defense manuals. Ms. Sutton frequently serves as an expert on the standard of care in mitigation investigations and co-authored guidelines on mitigation investigation in the era of COVID. Ms. Sutton also consults with defense teams on representing death-sentenced women and transgender individuals and has co-authored guidelines on this topic in collaboration with the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide. A graduate of Tufts University and Boston University School of Law, Ms. Sutton has taught courses at Tufts University and the University of Idaho College of Law and serves as a consulting editor for the journal reSentencing.

Tanya Greene

3am Warrior Award

Tanya Greene is an attorney working as a Capital Resource Counsel and the Director of Training for the Capital Resource Counsel & Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Projects. Ms. Greene has represented state and federal indigent capital clients for more than 25 years, starting in the Deep South at the Southern Center for Human Rights, and then at the New York Capital Defender Office, at trial, appeal, and in state and federal post-conviction proceedings.

Throughout her career, she has consulted on state and federal capital cases providing litigation and other resource support and developed innovative, highly-regarded lawyer training programs nationwide.

Prior to her current position, Ms. Greene spent five years as the inaugural national ACLU criminal justice Advocacy and Policy Counsel focused on death penalty and indigent defense policy reform issues; her work contributed to death penalty repeal in a number of states.

Ms. Greene served as the first active Death Penalty Resource Counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), creating NACDL’s Making the Case for Life annual training conference, which continues today.

Ms. Greene has served on the Board of Directors of the NACDL, co-chair of the NACDL Death Penalty Committee, and as a member of that organization’s Public Defense Committee. She served on the American Bar Association Death Penalty Due Process Project Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center in Houston, Texas, and has been part of the National Association for Public Defense Death Penalty and Racial Justice subcommittees.

From the beginning of her career, Ms. Greene developed and implemented “street law” programs with the National Conference of Black Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild bringing legal education to the community. As a young lawyer in 1999, she won the Reebok International Human Rights Award for her work against the death penalty and was profiled in Working Woman magazine. She has made numerous media appearances, guest-lectured at law schools and colleges, and taught at training conferences across the country.

She graduated from Wesleyan University with a double major in Sociology and Afro-American Studies, and received her JD from Harvard Law School.

Nayeli Moreno

Emerging Leader Award

Nayeli Moreno received a Bachelor of Social Work in 2018 and a Master of Science in Social Work in 2019 from the University of Texas at Austin.

Nayeli completed an undergraduate internship at the UT Law Criminal Defense Clinic where she worked with clients facing misdemeanor charges and helped connect them to community resources. She spent her final semester in graduate school working with Texas Defender Service as a Mitigation Intern. She joined Texas Defender Service as a Mitigation Specialist in 2019 working primarily with Spanish speaking clients and their families on pretrial and post-conviction cases.

Lela Hubbard, LMSW

Muhammad-White Award

Arizona Capital Representation Project

3am Warrior Award

Anupama Vishwamitra, LCSW

Muhammad-White Award

Cassandra Stubbs

3am Warrior Award

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