Official Press Release: Rewriting the Sentence II Summit on Alternatives to Incarceration

The Center for Justice and Human Dignity and Aleph Institute Convene Hundreds of Key Criminal Justice Stakeholders Nationwide for Rewriting the Sentence II 2023 Summit, to Promote Alternatives to Incarceration

Washington, D.C. (October 16-17, 2023): The Center for Justice and Human Dignity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to safely reducing the use of incarceration and improving conditions for correctional staff and incarcerated individuals, hosted the Rewriting the Sentence II Summit at the George Washington University Law School on October 16 and 17, 2023.

The Summit brought together hundreds of current and former judges, prosecutors, probation and pretrial officers, individuals directly affected by incarceration, and other key stakeholders in the criminal legal system to exchange ideas about effective alternatives to incarceration and to build sustained networks for their expansion throughout the country, as well as discuss the culture change in the system away from harsh punitiveness and toward greater humanity and alternatives to incarceration. The Rewriting the Sentence II Summit united these decision-makers for a peer-to-peer learning experience involving alternative approaches to criminal justice and highlight a vast array of innovative alternative approaches to sentencing currently used in jurisdictions throughout the country.

“Rewriting the Sentence II comes at an exciting moment for alternatives to incarceration, with federal guidance and directives militating in favor of their expansion, and a hunger for ways to safely reduce the use of incarceration and bring alternative sentencing programs to scale in our country,” says Hanna Liebman Dershowitz, a longtime criminal law policy reform attorney who serves as Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at the Center for Justice and Human Dignity.

This historic event featured a keynote address by Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School expert on trauma-informed systems transformation, as well as remarks and insights from Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters, U.S. Sentencing Commission Chair Hon. Carlton Reeves, U.S. Department of Justice Pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer, and many more.

The Summit featured a dozen panels providing expert insights from current and former federal and state judges, prosecutors, probation chiefs, restorative justice practitioners, local legislators, survivors of harm, system-impacted individuals, and other subject matter experts. The convening also highlighted a live conversation with currently incarcerated individuals over Zoom, as well as a mock sentencing workshop with former federal judge Nancy Gertner.

“We are proud of the robust program we have crafted,” says the Center’s Executive Director Christopher Poulos. “With this Summit, we aim to move the needle by highlighting a range of programs attendees can implement in their jurisdictions and tools they can use every day to be more attuned to and compassionate toward the individuals whose lives they directly impact.”

The Center for Justice and Human Dignity, founded in 2021, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is safely reducing the use of incarceration in the United States while improving conditions for incarcerated people and correctional staff. The Center promotes values of human dignity and shared safety while keeping in mind the needs of survivors, directly impacted people, and society at large. Alongside diverse partners, we collaborate with judges and prosecutors on alternative sentencing programs, correctional leaders on conditions of confinement, and policymakers on early release strategies.  To learn more about the Center for Justice and Human Dignity, visit

The Center was incubated at The Aleph Institute, a nonprofit organization formed in 1981 to assist and care for the wellbeing of members of specific populations that are isolated from the regular community: U.S. military personnel, incarcerated individuals, and people institutionalized or at risk of incarceration.  Aleph addresses their religious, educational, and spiritual needs, advocates for their civil and religious rights, and provides support to their families.  Aleph is committed to criminal justice reform and recidivism reduction through preventive education and faith-based rehabilitation programs, re-entry assistance, alternative sentencing programs and practices, and policy research and recommendations.  To learn more about The Aleph Institute, visit

Click here for additional Summit information, including the event’s full program. 

CJHD Board Member Alan Vinegrad Testifies at United States Sentencing Commission Public Hearing

CJHD Supports USSC for Proposed Expansion of Compassionate Release Criteria

WASHINGTON, D.C. – CJHD Board member Alan Vinegrad, Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP, testified on behalf of CJHD last Thursday, February 23, in support of the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC)’s proposed amendments expanding compassionate release criteria.

In his testimony, Vinegrad expressed  that CJHD “enthusiastically supports the Commission’s amendments to 1B1.13” as a “long-awaited, thoughtful, carefully crafted and measured response to Congress’s directive in the Sentencing Reform Act that this Commission delineate the circumstances in which persons in federal custody may be released or have their sentences reduced for extraordinary and compelling reasons.

“Importantly, this amendment is the right thing to do to enable judges to address individual cases of manifest sentencing injustice consistent with the legislative history of the compassionate release statute” and also “correctly protect the discretion of a judge to find that other, unspecified circumstances may … qualify as an extraordinary and compelling reason justifying a sentence reduction or release.”

Hanna Liebman Dershowitz, CJHD’s Director of Policy and Legal Affairs, joined Vinegrad at the Commission’s hearing.

The link to the hearing and agenda can be found here:

CJHD Board member Alan Vinegrad testifies at the United States Sentencing Commission’s public hearing on expanding compassionate release criteria. (February 23, 2023)

“Chris has worked so many years to support the people within our corrections system and promote strategies for successful re-entry.

This is a well-deserved feature about him and his work.”

Governor Jay Inslee, featuring Chris Poulos’s NBC Sunday Spotlight profile.

CJHD Welcomes New Executive Director

Center for Justice and Human Dignity Welcomes Christopher Poulos as Executive Director

OLYMPIA, WA – Following an extensive, nationwide recruitment effort, the Center for Justice and Human Dignity (CJHD) is honored to announce the appointment of Christopher Poulos as Executive Director, effective February 1, 2023. Poulos is an attorney and former senior government executive who brings a wealth of personal and professional passion and expertise to this pivotal role. His path led him from trauma, addiction, and incarceration to graduating from college and law school and serving at both the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project.

After attaining licensure in state and federal court, Poulos served as Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council and, most recently, as Director of Person-Centered Services at the Washington State Department of Corrections. His position at the Washington State Department of Corrections was unique in that it was the first of its kind and the first time a formerly incarcerated person has held a senior executive role in a state department of corrections.

Poulos’s work and personal story have been featured on The Today Show and in The GuardianThe New York TimesWashington PostNBC NewsThe HillCrosscutThe Epoch Times and The Harvard Law and Policy Review. Poulos was selected as one of Portland Magazine’s “Most Intriguing People” and as “Law Student of the Year” by National Jurist Magazine.

Now available on-demand

The Role of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in Decarceration: First Step Act and Beyond

A weekly virtual panel discussion series examining how the U.S. Sentencing Commission and its guidelines impact mass incarceration. Featuring judges, scholars, and practitioners discussing how guidelines, policy statements, and data collection might advance decarceration efforts and address system disparities. Watch all panels here.

Visit our Events page to learn more!

The critical impact of sentencing

“During the sentencing hearing, the lawyers and the judge discuss the appropriate sentence, often at great length, but after the judge announces a decision, that judge, the lawyers, and the staff move on to the next case; the hearing and outcome soon fade into distant memory.

Meanwhile, for the defendant, the torture of a monotonous existence begins, while life for his family moves forward without him. For him, every day, month and year that was added to the ultimate sentence will matter. The difference between ten and fifteen years may determine whether a parent sees his young child graduate from high school; the difference between ten and fifteen months may determine whether a son sees his sick parent before that parent passes away; the difference between probation and fifteen days may determine whether the defendant is able to maintain his employment and support his family.

Thus, it is crucial that judges give careful consideration to every minute that is added to a defendant’s sentence. Liberty is the norm; every moment of incarceration should be justified.”

Hon. George J. Hazel, U.S. District Judge, District of Maryland

Key Stats

Our System Needs Change


Percent increase of the prison population in the United States since the 1970s.

1 hour

The limited amount of time per day that the more than 60,000 people in U.S. solitary confinement are allowed for showers, brief exercise, or medical visits.

13 states

The number of states in the hottest regions of the country lacking universal air conditioning in their prisons, tragically leading to preventable and inhumane heat-related illness and death.