A Look at the Future of the Federal Criminal Justice System: Enhancing Public Safety and Eliminating Racial Disparities

February 21, 2023 | 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
St. Thomas School of Law Atrium

Welcoming Remarks

• Jerri C. Adams Belcher, Attorney, Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP; Co-Chair, Minnesota State Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Council
• Rob Vischer, President, University of St. Thomas

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Jerri C. Adams Belcher

Jerri C. Adams-Belcher

Rob Vischer Updated

Rob Vischer

Panel 1: Understanding the Impact:  An Analysis of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing Decisions

Studies show the presence of racial disparities in federal sentencing decisions. From 2015-2020, 65% of federal defendants convicted in Minnesota were racial minorities.  The Brennan Center study showed that for all federal defendants in the U.S., after controlling for offense type, White defendants receive a sentence that is on average 13% shorter than African American defendants and 19% shorter than Latin Americans. The panel discussion will analyze these persistent disparities and their impact.
• Surya Saxena, Partner Greene Espel
• Mark Osler, Professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law
• Amy Fettig, Executive Director, The Sentencing Project
• Rachel E. Barkow, Professor New York University School of Law; Member, United States Sentencing Commission (2013-2019) 

9:00 – 10:20 a.m.
Surya Saxena

Surya Saxena

Mark Osler

Mark Osler

Amy Fettig

Amy Fettig

Barkow, Rachel

Rachel E. Barkow

Panel 2 - Overcoming Systemic Bias: Lessons from County Prosecutors Identifying and Implementing Solutions to Eliminate Bias in the Criminal Justice System

In an effort to eliminate bias and reduce disparities, these prosecutors have worked to understand bias, evaluate solutions, and measure progress.  Can we advance public safety without reverting to the mistakes of the past?  What can we learn from their work and what would it take to scale those lessons to have impact in other jurisdictions, including at the federal level.
• Dr. Tanya Gladney, Associate Professor, Justice and Society Studies, University of St. Thomas
• John J. Choi, County Attorney, Ramsey County, Minnesota
• Erica H. MacDonald, Partner, Faegre Drinker; U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota (2018-2021); Minnesota District Court Judge (2009-2019)
• Dan Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, King County, Washington (2007-2022)
• Sherry Boston, District Attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia

10:30 – 11:50 a.m.

Dr. Tanya Gladney

John J. Choi

John J. Choi

Erica H. MacDonald

Dan Satterberg

Sherry Boston

Lunch and Fireside Chat with Former United States Attorney General Eric Holder

Ann M. Anaya, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Amerisource Bergen
Eric H. Holder, Jr., Senior Counsel Covington & Burling; U.S. Attorney General (2009-2015)

12:00 – 1:20 p.m.
Anaya, Ann

Ann Anaya

Holder, Eric

Eric Holder

Panel 3: Beyond Prosecution: Community-Based Initiatives to Promote both Public Safety and Equity

Research shows that community organizations and nonprofits can have a direct impact on reducing crime, including violent and property crime.  But what types of partnerships make a difference and what is the role of the government in advancing these efforts?  The panel discussion will highlight various efforts taking place in Minnesota and beyond, as well as discuss the role that the U.S. Department of Justice and other law organizations should or can play in supporting these community initiatives.  
• Lola Velazquez-Aguilu, Chief Legal Counsel, Neuromodulation, Medtronic;
• Sterling Knox, Recidivism Reduction Initiative Coordinator, Red Lake; Member, Minnesota Juvinile Justice Advisory Council 
• Sasha Cotton, Senior Director for the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
• Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Advisor for Community Violence Intervention in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs
1:30 – 2:50 p.m.

Lola Velazquez-Aguilu

Sasha Cotton

Knox, Sterling

Sterling Knox

Bocanegra, Eddie

Eddie Bocanegra

Panel 4: Judicial Innovations: Creation and Use of Pre-Trial and Post-Conviction Specialty Courts to Expand the Federal Judge’s Options 

Federal district courts throughout the United States, including the District of Minnesota, have implemented a number of diversion and specialty courts to address the rehabilitative needs of the individual defendant and thereby prevent recidivism.  This panel discussion will explore how pre-trial and post-conviction specialty courts have affected racial disparities and public safety.
• Shannon Elkins, Assistant Federal Defender, District of Minnesota
• Kito Bess, Chief U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, District of Minnesota'
• Ignace Sanon-Jules, Deputy Chief Pretrial Services Officer, Eastern District of New York
• Hon. Audrey G. Fleissig, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Shannon Elkins

Kito Bess

Ignace Sanon-Jules

Fleissig, Audrey G

Hon. Audrey G. Fleissig

Conclusory Remarks

Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu, Senior Associate General Counsel, Optum

Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senate

4:30 – 4:45 pm
Aba-Onu, Uzodima Franklin

Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu


Senator Amy Klobuchar

Reception and Happy Hour

4:45 – 6:00 p.m.
4:45 – 6:00 pm