Documentary Screening & panel discussion
March 16 • 6:30pm Central • Virtual
"The Vanishing Trial” takes a deep dive into the trial penalty in America. It focuses on four individuals who were forced to make that excruciating choice between pleading guilty or going to trial. Each was threatened with a “trial penalty,” the term used to describe the substantially longer prison sentence a person receives if they exercise their constitutional right to trial instead of pleading guilty. The documentary reveals how the trial penalty has led to the shocking disappearance of one of the most fundamental individual rights and the explosion in America’s prison population. Throughout the film, we hear the perspectives of national experts, including former federal judges and prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, constitutional law experts, and criminal justice reform advocates.
The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by the museum's Veda Ajamu, will include:
- Stephanie N. Morales of Portsmouth, VA is an attorney who fights for those who can’t fight for themselves by working to address the mental health crisis in the criminal justice system and to disrupt implicit bias in prosecution. She also formed the Ctrl + Alt + Del Program to help restore felon rights and reduce recidivism and the Future Leaders Initiative that hosts youth as junior attorneys.
- Kevin Ring is president of criminal justice reform advocacy group FAMM. Prior to joining FAMM in 2008, Kevin Ring was a lobbyist in Washington, DC. He was twice named one of K Streets’s Top Rainmakers by The Hill. Ring was indicted in September 2008 on public corruption charges as part of the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandal. After two trials and appeals, Ring ultimately served 20 months in federal prison. In 2017 he became president of FAMM and Ring has testified before Congress and state legislatures across the country regarding sentencing and prison reform.
- Chris Young is an entrepreneur who is passionate about bridging the gap between the streets and innovative technology. He was arrested at 22 and ultimately sentenced to mandatory life without parole under draconian federal drug laws. After serving over a decade in prison, he is dedicating his time to helping multi-marginalized youth embrace their imaginations to create a better future.
- Judge Kevin Sharp is the Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Nashville office, which opened in the spring of 2017. He joined Sanford Heisler Sharp after serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee from May 2011 through April 2017, serving from 2014 to 2017 as the Court’s Chief Judge. Sharp has retired from the bench, citing his deep ethical discomfort with sentencing young men “barely on the totem pole” of drug conspiracies to die in prison.
This event is in partnership with FAMM. “The Vanishing Trial” was produced by FAMM producer/director Wynette Yao and cinematographer/editor Travis Edwards. FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe.