News Release

Anthony Powers Receives the 2023 Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award From Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (Aug. 17, 2023) – Anthony Powers, Reentry Program Director for the Seattle Clemency Project, was presented with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award at NACDL's 22nd Annual State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) Conference. The award recognizes an individual or group whose tremendous efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal legal system. 

When Powers was 16, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 77 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Rather than letting this sentence define him, he decided to focus on improving himself and those around him. While incarcerated, Powers co-founded the Redemption Project, a behavioral health program focused on reducing violence in the prison system by helping individuals think about their actions and work towards a better future. The Redemption Project has become one of the most successful cognitive behavioral programs in the Washington Department of Corrections, with over 5,000 individuals using the program to receive tools to support rehabilitation. But Powers did not stop there. He started looking at sentencing data and realized the importance of data transparency in achieving true equity and justice. This led to Powers founding the American Equity and Justice Group (AEJG) in 2017, forming a diverse team to tackle complex data challenges, and today focusing on integrating data into the Equity Dashboard from Washington and other states so individuals in the legal system can receive up-to-date sentencing data and other relevant insights on their cases. Powers is the current Executive Director of AEJG, which also works with various stakeholders in the criminal legal system to understand how sentencing decisions can exacerbate inequities in the legal system, and how to remedy this through policy and legal reform. In 2019, after 27 years in prison and with assistance from the Seattle Clemency Project’s pro bono counsel, Powers was granted early release. After his release, Powers and Redemption Project co-founder Karlton Daniel designed and currently lead the Seattle Clemency Project’s Reentry and Mentoring Program, which focuses on increasing access to counsel and providing clients with reentry support to achieve long-term success.  

Michael Iacopino, chair of NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Committee, said: "Anthony Powers is a leader in his community who perfectly encapsulates what the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award is all about. Rather than letting a 77-year sentence define his life, Powers chose to accept responsibility for his actions and commit his life to identifying and reforming inequities in the criminal legal system, while helping himself and others rehabilitate and build a better future for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. From his violence reduction and rehabilitation work with the Redemption Project, his data transparency and sentencing reform leadership with the AEJG, his reentry support for the Seattle Clemency Project, and numerous other efforts, Powers has steadfastly committed his life to positively transforming the criminal legal system for the state of Washington and the entire country. For these reasons, I am honored to present the 2023 Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award to Anthony Powers."

Powers continues to support his community by serving as a mentor for East African youth in Seattle and lecturing for the University of Washington’s Law Societies and Justice program. He always looks for ways to share his life experiences with people, especially those reentering their communities, in an effort to show the power of redemption. 

Learn more about the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award and view past recipients. 

Featured Products


Kate Holden, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.