Grace Gámez, PhD, ReFraming Justice (RFJ) Project Coordinator & Founder
AFSC-Arizona works to reduce incarceration through state sentencing reform, fighting prison and detention expansion, and improving conditions of confinement. Maybe the most important piece of this work is not just including, but following the lead of people who are directly impacted by the punishment system in the movement for reform and social change.
In this spirit, AFSC-Arizona has created an advisory committee of directly impacted experts who will provide valuable input and direction on the work that we do. And I’m honored and excited to introduce them to you.
These leaders – we call them RFJ Leaders – work closely with our staff on advising, planning and developing meaningful work that centers the needs, perspective, and experiences of directly impacted people. This core leadership team will guide and enroll other impacted people into the RFJ project and amplify the effectiveness of AFSC-Arizona’s anti-punishment movement work by participating in speaking engagement opportunities, media interviews, writing opinion pieces and blogs, advising us on our legislative direction, traveling to conferences across the country, and other important AFSC-Arizona work.
Learn more about this extraordinary group and some of the experiences that have brought them into this work by reading their bios below.
Rafael Batain presented at the first-ever Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in 2019. He served a 19 years in the Arizona prison system, and is currently the Team Leader of the Tucson If Project, a community intervention and mentoring program. Mr. Batain works closely with formerly incarcerated adults and community partners to help prevent and reduce incarceration and recidivism, and believes we have many victories yet to be won.
Vicky Campo is a graduate of Valley Leadership-Class 36 and the marketing coordinator for Arizonans for Rational Sex Offense Laws (AZRSOL), which advocates for fact-based laws and policies that promote public safety, safeguard civil liberties, honor human dignity, and offer holistic prevention, healing, and restoration. AZRSOL believes denying any group of citizens their civil, constitutional or human rights threatens the liberties of all. Vicky is the mother of a formerly incarcerated citizen and an advocate for justice reform.
Ashley Cooper is a doctoral candidate in Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. Her research engages reproductive justice, precarious care work, and radical feminist imaginaries of collective dignity. As a Lovelace Fellow with AFSC-Arizona this year, she will be working on a mixed-methods research project with people incarcerated in state prisons. The goal of the research project is to capture the landscape of sentencing practices in Arizona from the perspective of directly impacted people.
John Fabricius is a professional musician, audio engineer, producer, music teacher, technologist, paralegal, and writer. John spent 15 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections and assisted more than 150 fellow incarcerated people to assert their rights in court. John is passionate about criminal justice reform and co-authored Truth in Corrections: Restoring Public Trust in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Daniel Howe is the Owner/Director of The Earnest House, LLC, and Workforce Development Specialist with the Pima County One-Stop System. Mr. Howe has nearly 10 years’ experience assisting those in the Tucson area to overcome barriers such as housing and employment. Mr. Howe uses the combination of his troubled childhood, along with his years in the state prison system, to connect with individuals who are facing the same struggles that he once did. Mr. Howe is a board member of the Second Chance Coalition in Tucson, and he is on the committee of the Safety and Justice Challenge through the MacArthur Foundation. He also sits on the committee for the Southern Arizona Construction Career Days and is a member of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families and is a. Mr. Howe has also been accepted into the 2020 cohort of JustLeadershipUSA.
Nate McKowen is a filmmaker, writer, and an advocate for sentencing reform. As AFSC-AZ’s media arts intern, he produces social media content, graphics, videos, and the ReFraming Justice podcast. Prior to his incarceration, Nate graduated from the New York Film Academy. He is currently working on a documentary about the barriers that prevent people from successfully re-entering society post-incarceration.
Virginia Mireles is a directly impacted person who spent a total of 17 years inside the Arizona Department of Corrections. Today, she dedicates her time to rebuilding relationships with her children, raising awareness of the prison-to-workforce pipeline, and lending her voice and experience to the ReFraming Justice Project.
Deborah North has 30-plus years working in project management and quality engineering in such disparate fields as semiconductor electronics and organic and sustainable agriculture. Motivated by a family member’s incarceration, Deb has redirected her energies into criminal justice reform. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from the committed individuals working on reform in Arizona.
Alexandria S. Pech is a doctoral student in Family Studies and Human Development (FSHD) at the University of Arizona (UA). She also holds a Master of Science degree in FSHD from UA. As a directly-impacted scholar, Alexandria uses her experiential knowledge – as a daughter who grew up with an incarcerated father – to inform her work, which explores how the punishment system impacts youth of incarcerated parents during, across, and beyond adolescence, and across various contexts such as school, family, and community. Her dissertation seeks to use counter stories to deconstruct the gendered, racialized, and heteronormative experiences of familial incarceration by centering the voices of adolescent Girls of Color experiencing their loved one’s incarceration. She is on the planning committee for the 2020 National Children of Incarcerated Parents conference and a collaborator with We Got Us Now, a national movement built by, led by and about children and young adults impacted by parental incarceration.
Steven Scharboneau is a recent graduate of the Arizona State University College of Law and a Law Clerk at the Rosenstein Law Group. He is also a Legislative Committee Member with the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice (AACJ), where he collaborates, drafts policy and lobbies at the Arizona State Legislature in support of meaningful criminal justice reform. Steven also contributes to his community by serving on the Phoenix Rio Vista Village Planning Committee by appointment from former Mayor (now Congressman) Greg Stanton. During the 2019 first regular Arizona legislative session, Steven led the fight against commercial mugshot companies. Along with the AACJ legislative team, he conceptualized, drafted and lobbied for HB 2191—successfully passing a law that bans commercial website operators and prescribes damages to those negatively impacted.
Charlene Schwickrath is the mother of an incarcerated son serving a 37.5-year sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Several years after her son’s incarceration started, Charlene began advocating for prison and sentencing reform by volunteering with AFSC-AZ, LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona), and the ACLU of Arizona’s Smart Justice Project. Charlene is a Social Media Influencer who creates awareness around the crisis of mass incarceration. She is a co-administrator of several Facebook groups, including Arizona Prison and Sentencing Reform and Eyman Complex – Families Against Solitary Confinement. Charlene is currently working with several State Senators to create laws that would end the inhumane practice of solitary confinement.
Zachary Stout is a formerly incarcerated person advocating for increased access to higher education for those impacted by the system, and he works to advance sentencing reform. Zachary is a student at the University of Arizona (UA), pursuing a triple-major degree in both the Eller College of Management and the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. Additionally, he is a first-year student in the Accelerated Master’s Program in Political Philosophy. He has worked with Voices on the Economy as a content creator and writing contributor and is a From Prison Cells to Ph.D. scholar and ambassador. He also serves as chair of the UA chapter of the American Enterprise Institute’s Executive Council.
Gerald S. Williams, Sr., is a father of six children – five kings and one queen. He loves working with his hands and has taken on many projects. Gerald works at Arcadia Customs as a Building Maintenance Technician. Outside his job, he serves as the drummer at Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church (RSMBC). Gerald spent over 10 years in the adult prison system and uses that experience to inform the work he does within several local and national organizations, including the Pima County Safety & Justice Challenge, JustLeadershipUSA, the Youth Department at RSMBC, and AFSC-Arizona.