Board Member

In 1985 Calvin Duncan was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life without any possibility of parole. While in prison at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Calvin served as inmate counsel handling the cases of hundreds of fellow inmates, including helping to secure a new trial for celebrated prison journalist Wilbert Rideau. Calvin also initiated the litigation that culminated in the 2012 victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Juan Smith v. Burl Cain, which vacated Juan Smith’s death sentence. After nearly 30 years in prison Calvin won his freedom, and has since served as paralegal at the Louisiana Capital Appeals Project and Education Coordinator for the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. In 2012 Calvin was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to vindicate the post-conviction rights of incarcerated people by increasing their access to the courts, and by raising awareness around the inequities in the post-conviction process. In 2014 Calvin co-founded The First 72+ a transitional home and reentry program started by and for people returning home from prison. In 2015 Calvin was awarded a prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship to launch RisingFoundations.


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