Justice Reform: Can Tech Innovators Fix Criminal Justice?

1871, Chicago
Nov 30th 2016
See the website


Criminal justice reform is finally garnering serious bipartisan support at the state and federal level and the tech community has been leading the way - from dropping the box on job applications to investing in coding and other training programs that ease the path to employment for former offenders.  But the challenge for reformers remains daunting: nationally, as many as 70 percent of people with records are unemployed a year after release from prison. In Illinois, 47 percent return to prison after release.  

How is the tech community already contributing to criminal justice reform? And what policy changes or private initiatives could help expand opportunities for those involved in the justice system - or keep them from getting there in the first place?


Brian McKinney

Brian is a native of Detroit with a lifelong passion for entrepreneurship.  As CEO of Benjii, he and his team create software that enables business owners to increase access to bank capital. Prior to this, Brian oversaw community engagement at Pigeonly, a company which builds products that make inmate services more affordable. Additionally, Brian is cofounder of JOURNi, an EdTech non profit based in Detroit focused on increasing minority access to tech. He's also played an integral part producing hackathons for Qeyno Labs and the #YesWeCode movement. May 2015, Brian was selected by Black Enterprise as a #BEModernMan."

Kevin Pujanauski

Kevin is Product Manager at Edovo, a company that provides intuitive educational courses where inmates are rewarded for learning. With their unique tablet technology, they help unlock the potential of millions of incarcerated people. Edovo increases access to invaluable resources for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.

DeVaris Brown

DeVaris Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Floodgate Academy. As a proud Chicagoan and University of Illinois alum, he's providing access to high-quality technical training to the underrepresented and underserved through his non-profit work.

Beth Johnson

Beth is Director of Legal Programs at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. she has represented hundreds of clients during her time at CGLA in all areas related to criminal records, including expungement and sealing, clemency petitions, waivers and certificates, discrimination claims under the Illinois Human Rights Act and administrative proceedings. She has worked successfully with other advocacy groups to improve systems changes in the courts, policies of employers and governmental agencies and expansions and clarifications to criminal records laws in the Illinois General Assembly.

Tom Alexander [Moderator]

Tom is chief operating officer for 1871, one of the largest technology incubators in the United States. His role includes operation of a facility that houses hundreds of startups, business development efforts focused on integrating 1871 into the Chicago technology economy, and external relations efforts with government and media partners. Previously, Tom served as deputy communications director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


6:00 PM Doors Open for Drinks Reception

6:30 PM Welcome Remarks

6:40-7:20 PM Panel Discussion

7:20-7:30 PM Audience Q&A

7:30 PM Event Concludes

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