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2022 Moments & Milestones

The Whole Story

Getting “the whole story” is hard work. But unless we learn the true and complete story we end up with a skewed vision of each other. Look around and you’ll see evidence of this everywhere, including in our criminal legal system. The stories told about individuals accused of crimes must reveal the entire person, the hurts caused and the good given, or our system will never be just.

Mitigation investigation is the process of unearthing and telling the rich, detailed, accurate story of a life. When judges, juries, and prosecutors hear these stories, it leads to a truer understanding of our clients, and more often than not, more humane outcomes. Expanding the use and effectiveness of mitigation investigation in the criminal legal system is meticulous and time-consuming work, and it is essential.

“ Mitigation investigation is the process of unearthing and telling the rich, detailed, accurate story of a life. ”

In 2022, our team helped tell the true, accurate stories of nearly 30 clients in 10 states and five federal jurisdictions. As courts continued to open back up after closures and delays caused by the pandemic, many were scrambling to catch up for lost time. In 2022, we often had to help educate courts, prosecutors, and sometimes our own team members about the time and funds necessary to carry out mitigation investigations. Our focus was to ensure that the resources, including time, were provided to every person whose life hung in the balance. At the same time, we helped more than 1,500 defense team members tell their client’s stories through our training, online clearinghouse, and consulting.

Thanks to you, we are on track to do more in 2023, with improved online resources and additional support for cases that lack sufficient funding. We set an ambitious end-of-year fundraising goal and surpassed it. We are exceedingly grateful for the outpouring of support from you – our friends, supporters, and partners.

We can do this work because of the incredible community that believes in us, our work, and our mission. Because of you, more people will hear the whole story and be on the path towards justice.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Vartkessian
​Executive Director, Advancing Real Change, Inc.​

Moments & Milestones from 2022

Here are a few of the ways that Advancing Real Change, Inc. made an impact on the criminal legal system and the lives of our clients in 2022.

ARC, Inc., staff collected more than 100,000 pages of records and spoke to over 150 witnesses across cases to unearth the life histories of our clients.

Adam Carmon’s New Trial

Our client Adam Carmon left prison last November. After nearly three decades, Adam was granted a new trial after a judge ruled that the prosecution had withheld evidence during his original trial, including information about alternative suspects and inconsistencies in eyewitness accounts that could have changed the outcome of the case. “How could anyone have confidence in a verdict of guilty in a case such as this?” State Superior Court Judge Jon Alander wrote in his decision.

Adam hugging his son outside of prison for the first time. Photo credit: New Haven Independent

 ARC, Inc., worked on cases, trainings, and projects in 13 states and 5 federal jurisdictions.

Julian's First Cheeseburger

In November 2022, ARC, Inc. client Julian left prison, hugged his family, and ate his first real cheeseburger in decades. When Julian was sentenced to life in prison without parole he was just 17 years old. He was not accused of firing the shot that killed the victim but was nonetheless sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison until prosecutors agreed to let Julian out on probation last year. The details about Julian’s life uncovered by ARC, Inc.’s mitigation investigator Maddie Burger, along with his entire team from the public defender’s office, were critical to the prosecutor’s decision. Maddie accompanied Julian for much of his journey and even bought him his first cheeseburger.

Julian has enrolled in a re-entry program and is working a job in construction. He is looking for ways to give back to his community.

ARC, Inc., provided 26 free education and training events and online resources to more than 1,500 members of defense teams across the country. ARC, Inc., also launched Ask A Mitigation Specialist, a resource and help-line for those newer to the field or needing additional guidance.

Dennis Glover’s New Sentence

​After many years of uncertainty and a long legal fight, Dennis Glover no longer has the specter of the death penalty overshadowing his life. Dennis was unconstitutionally sentenced to death in 2015. There were a number of issues with Dennis’ sentence, including that people of color were disproportionately excluded from the jury when he was first sentenced. His sentence was overturned in 2017, and after 5 years, the prosecution agreed to a settlement in his case of life without the possibility of parole. The significant amount of mitigating evidence collected by his team over the years, including ARC, Inc.’s own mitigation investigator Judith Mazdra, helped obtain this outcome for Dennis.

Dennis is now in the general prison population, where our staff continues to stay in touch to support him through the transition.

Our Growing Team

This year, we welcomed six new staff members onto our team in both our Baltimore and Florida offices! Our new staff include mitigation specialists, record collection specialists, and staff to oversee our human resources and development efforts. We’re excited to see the impact our team will have on the criminal legal system and the lives of our clients in 2023, together with the defense teams we work with and the partners and supporters who make our work possible.

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