TSU Anthony Graves Smart Justice Speaker’s Bureau

Program Overview

The urban research and resource center has partnered with the American civil liberties union (Houston) to reduce incarceration by 50%.

It plans to achieve this result through research, advocacy, and community engagement:

  1. TSU Anthony Graves smart justice speaker’s bureau prepares persons directly impacted by incarceration to tell their stories in a way to educate, persuade and reform the criminal justice system. The TSU Anthony Graves Smart Justice Speaker’s Bureau is the first of its kind in the world.
  2. TSU students and faculty conduct research on the issue of criminal justice reform in order to educate communities and policy makers on issues like bail reform, sentencing reform, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
  3. Community Outreach and engagement fosters understanding and collaboration between law enforcement and the people they serve

The collaboration between Texas Southern University’s Urban Research and Resource Center (URRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Texas is a one of its kind program. These two entities have teamed up to tackle criminal justice reform by seeking to drastically reduce mass incarceration through researching the drivers of incarceration, and formulating policies aimed at impacting those main drivers in a way that achieves the goal.

Formerly Incarcerated

Having paid their debt to society, previously incarcerated people need and deserve opportunities to integrate back into civilian life and become positive contributors to society. The collaboration will work with qualified persons to help reduce recidivism and to encourage entrepreneurship and academic development through a 12-week professional public speaking training program. This program will help these individuals hone and perfect their communication skills, thereby maximizing the impact of their personal testimonies and experiences in the criminal justice system. The ultimate aim of the SMART Justice Speakers Bureau is that participants are able to make a career of advocating for criminal justice reform by utilizing their unique expertise on the subject. Training will include focus on a range of communication skills including:

  • Effective storytelling – general techniques for effective communication
  • Media training – how to effectively communicate with the news media in a variety of formats
  • Training on the delivery of impactful testimony – how to communicate before legislative bodies
  • Engaging private attorneys, public defenders & DA’s offices – how to communicate to the legal profession
  • Public engagement/ generating public support for criminal justice reform by speaking before a non-legal audience

The Speakers Bureau will utilize highly credentialed and experienced trainers who will follow approved curriculum specific to the topic areas of criminal justice reform. The class sizes will range from 5-10 students who will be trained and prepared for speaking engagements around the country. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate of achievement certifying their skills.

  • Selection for training will be competitive. Applicants will submit a 10-minute video for consideration and/or participate in a phone interview, whereby candidates will then be invited to a face-to-face interview.
  • Speakers will be trained to be effective agents of change at the local, state and national levels.
  • Speakers, their skills and time, will be highly valued. Trained speakers will be fairly compensated in a manner befitting speaking engagements for other public policy professionals.

Class Information

If you are interested in participating in one of our classes, please complete the application. Click here.