White House Honors Champion of Change Daryl Atkinson
On Monday, June 30, 2014 the White House honored local “Champions of Change” who are doing extraordinary work to facilitate employment opportunities for individuals formerly involved in the justice system. Daryl V. Atkinson, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, was the only North Carolina-based recipient. Watch Daryl’s speech:
According to the White House press release, “The Champions have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary dedication and hard work to help those with criminal records re-enter society with dignity and viable employment opportunities.”
“Daryl has made a huge difference in the lives of people he represents by enabling them to remove barriers that hold them back from advancing their families and their communities. We are delighted that the White House is recognizing him as an inspirational leader,” said SCSJ Executive Director Anita Earls.
Daryl Atkinson is a staff attorney at SCSJ focusing on criminal justice reform issues. In 1996, Daryl pled guilty to a first-time, non-violent drug crime and served 40 months in prison. Since his release, Daryl completed college and law school and has become a zealous advocate for second chances for formerly incarcerated people.
Locally Daryl has led SCSJ’s Clean Slate Clinics, and he previously co-managed the Collateral Consequence Assessment Tool (C-CAT). C-CAT is an online searchable database that allows the user to identify the civil disabilities triggered by North Carolina arrests, indictments, and convictions. Because of Daryl’s intimate knowledge of collateral consequences he was chosen to serve on an advisory committee for the American Bar Association’s collateral consequence project.
Daryl has been active in both the prisoner reentry and legal service communities. He is a founding member of the North Carolina Second Chance Alliance, a burgeoning statewide coalition of advocacy organizations, service providers, faith-based organizations and community leaders that have come together to achieve the safe and successful reintegration of adults and juveniles returning home from incarceration. Most notably, Daryl and the Durham Second Chance Alliance led the first successful Ban the Box campaign in North Carolina, which resulted in the City of Durham adopting an administrative policy that removed the question about criminal convictions from the city employment application.
“This award is a huge honor,” said Atkinson. “To me, it really demonstrates the potential of every formerly incarcerated individual to achieve their dreams if they have the proper support.”
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions. To learn more about Daryl Atkinson’s work with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, visit www.scsj.org.