About the 8th Amendment Project
The 8th Amendment Project was founded in 2014 to unite and lead the national movement to end the death penalty. The campaign brings together dozens of national, state, and local partners around a shared strategy to achieve repeal and discourage use of the death penalty by working to change the public discourse about capital punishment in the United States. 8AP also guides funders who want to strategically invest in ending the death penalty.
On January 1, 2018, 8AP became a fiscally sponsored project of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.
Laura Porter, Executive Director
Laura Porter joins the 8th Amendment Project after serving as Director of Campaigns for the Fair Punishment Project and nearly a decade as Director of Campaigns and Strategy with Equal Justice USA. (EJUSA). Over the last 10 years Laura was a chief strategist in the death penalty repeal campaigns in Connecticut, Maryland, and Nebraska and gave strategic advise to policy advocates across the country. She specialized in building relationships with victims, law enforcement, and conservatives and led the groundbreaking national project Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Currently, she serves as the lead advisor to the Responsible Business Initiative engaging trade and business voices in criminal justice reform advocacy. Prior to campaign work, Laura was a public defender for 12 years in New York and a legal analyst on television.
Stefanie Faucher, Deputy Director
Stefanie began her advocacy against the death penalty in 1999. She has worked for the 8th Amendment Project since 2014, serving first as Communications Director and later as Deputy Director. She also served as the Communications Director for the Fair Punishment Project. In 2016, Stefanie acted as the Communications Director for California’s No on Prop 66 campaign. Prior to this, she worked for the national political organization MoveOn.org, where she served as Communications Manager and as a Manager of Campaign Support. Between 2002 and 2011, Stefanie worked at Death Penalty Focus, where she held the position of Associate Director and worked to lay the groundwork for Prop 34, which sought to repeal the death penalty in California. In 2008, she was awarded the Abolitionist of the Year Award by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Stefanie is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and is based in Oakland, CA with her husband and daughter.
Chris Keelty, Development Director
Christopher Keelty has spent more than 17 years as a nonprofit fundraiser, supporting vulnerable people at organizations including the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, City Harvest in New York City, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. He got his start in the zoological industry, and also works as a freelance author and cartoonist.
Furonda Brasfield, Director of Leadership Development
Furonda Brasfield is a licensed attorney, residing in Little Rock, Arkansas. Furonda received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen Law School. She formerly served as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ACADP) during the 2017 #8in10 killing spree where Arkansas officials hatched a plan to execute eight men in ten days. Aside from her work in the death penalty movement, Furonda is active with a number of grassroots organizations, including: the DecARcerate campaign to end mass incarceration in Arkansas, the Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System Steering Committee, the NAACP, and The Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign. Furonda enjoys connecting people and ideas; and ushering new energy into old spaces.
Palika Makam, Director of Digital
Palika is a digital strategist and storyteller based in Brooklyn, New York. For the past decade she has used digital organizing, video, and ethical storytelling to expose abuses and advocate for change in policies, practices, behaviors and laws throughout the criminal justice system. A core tenet of Palika’s work is the belief that everyone has a role to play in creating a more equitable world, and she has honored that belief through her years of training communities across the globe – from Ferguson to South Africa to Palestine. At 23, Palika co-founded and ran the Babel Project where she trained hundreds of youth activists to create and utilize documentary films as a tool for their organizing work. The Babel Project was instrumental in organizing the first truth and reconciliation convening in Ferguson, Missouri with young people who lost loved ones to police violence. Palika previously led the United States portfolio at WITNESS, where she created a program for lawyers to use video and storytelling as a decarceration tool for clemency and parole clients. Dozens of people have been released from prison through the program. Before coming to 8th Amendment Project, Palika led multiple major digital campaign wins fighting for clemency action, parole reform, protection to our right to protest racial injustice, and more as the Senior Campaign Manager for Criminal Justice & Democracy at Color of Change – the largest national Black-led racial justice organization in the country. Palika is an Emerging Activist Fellow with the Social Change Initiative and a recipient of the Coaching Fellowship. She is the proud daughter of immigrants and the South Asian diaspora community that raised her.
Henderson Hill was the first Executive Director of the 8th Amendment Project serving from 2014 until 2019. He is currently Senior Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project. He is currently leading a North Carolina-based project aimed at addressing mass incarceration called REDRESS. Previously, Hill served as the Executive Director of Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, where he led a team of 35 attorneys and staff in providing first-rate legal representation for indigent defendants to ensure that justice was administered on a fair and equal basis. Prior to the Federal Defender, Hill was a partner in litigation practice for more than a decade at Ferguson Stein Chambers. He has been recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and by his peers as a Super Lawyer. In 1995, Hill founded the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL) in Durham, a non-profit law office providing direct representation consultation in capital defense at trial, post-conviction, and federal habeas corpus stages. Hill now serves on the Board of Directors of CDPL, which has grown into a staff of more than 20.
Hill serves on the Board of Directors of Supportive Housing Communities in Charlotte and on the Advisory Board of Common Justice in Brooklyn, New York. Hill is also the founder of the Neighborhood Advocacy Center in Charlotte and the Charlotte Coalition for Community Justice. Hill has served as an adjunct assistant professor and lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Duke Schools of Law. Hill is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lehman College, City University of New York. Henderson lives in Charlotte, NC.
Xavier McElrath-Bey is a Co-Executive Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth and a co-founder of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (ICAN), an initiative of CFSY, which seeks to amplify the stories and voices of leaders who were incarcerated as youth.
During his many years at the Campaign, Xavier has fought to abolish “life without parole” for children in America, and, in recent years, he played a role in ending this practice in several states—including Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
At age 13, after accumulating 19 arrests and 7 convictions, Xavier was arrested and charged with a gang-related murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. While growing up in prison, Xavier became increasingly remorseful of his past actions and decided to change for the better. Hopeful of someday living a “normal life”, Xavier prepared himself by earning an Associate in Arts and an Associate in General Education from Carl Sandburg College; a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Roosevelt University; and a certificate in Computer Technology. Xavier was also inducted into the Franklin Honor Society for “outstanding scholarship”. In 2002, Xavier was released at age 26, after serving 13 years.
While volunteering as a YMCA youth boxing coach, Xavier landed his first job as a Starbucks barista and decided to pursue a Master of Arts from Roosevelt University’s Counseling and Human Services Program. He graduated with honors in 2006, and, since then, has worked in various fields, including violence prevention, youth counseling, clinical research, and, now, youth advocacy and sentencing reform. Prior to his current employment at CFSY, Xavier worked for Northwestern University’s Health Disparities & Public Policy program—advancing a longitudinal study, he conducted over 800 clinical research interviews with formerly incarcerated youth.
Today, Xavier is an Ambassador of the Represent Justice campaign and is a MacArthur Foundation SJC Advisory Council Member. Previously, Xavier served as a board member at the Community Justice for Youth Institute and as a member of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force’s workgroup on Community and Police Relations.
Xavier is a prolific speaker who has inspired countless audiences to be reform-minded advocates for the most vulnerable children in our society. Many media and news outlets, including New York Times, Chicago Tribune, PBS NewsHour, The Steve Wilkos Show, and Huffington Post have captured Xavier’s efforts; and his story has also been featured in many literary works, including Howard Schultz’s, “From the Ground Up” and Gordon McLean’s, “Too Young to Die.”
In recent times, Xavier received the 2018 Justice Roundtable Excellence Award, the 2019 JustLeadershipUSA Leading with Conviction Award, and Bright Promises Foundation’s 2021 Champion for Children Award.
In his powerful TEDx Talk, titled “No Child is Born Bad”, Xavier reminds all of us that no child should ever receive a “death in prison” sentence; that all children, including those who have made horrible mistakes, have the capacity for positive change.
Amy Fettig is a human rights lawyer and leading expert on criminal justice reform who has garnered national recognition for her work on prison conditions. Prior to joining The Sentencing Project as Executive Director, Fettig served as Deputy Director for the ACLU’s National Prison Project. At the ACLU, she litigated federal class action prison conditions cases under the Eighth Amendment. Her practice focused on claims regarding medical and mental health care in prison, solitary confinement, sexual assault in detention settings, and comprehensive reform in juvenile facilities.
Fettig also founded and directed the ACLU’s Stop Solitary campaign seeking to end the practice of long-term isolation in our nation’s prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers through public policy reform, legislation, litigation and public education. Fettig served as a leading member of the national coalition seeking to end the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women. A national expert on prisoner rights law and criminal justice reform, Fettig has also provided technical assistance and advice to advocates around the country and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she taught courses on public interest advocacy. Prior to law school, Ms. Fettig worked with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and their families in New York City.
She holds a B.A., with distinction, Carleton College; a Master’s from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs; and a J.D. from Georgetown University. Fettig is a member of the New York State Bar (2002) and the Bar for the District of Columbia (2006).
Sara Totonchi is a transformational leader whose career has focused on human rights and social justice.
For more than twenty years, Sara’s advocacy home was the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), a public interest law firm that works for equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South. Sara joined SCHR in 2001 as the Public Policy Director and became the organization’s Executive Director in 2010. For 11 years as Executive Director, Sara led the SCHR team in carrying out its mission to end the death penalty, mass incarceration, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice.
In 2021, Sara was appointed by United State Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to serve as one of the 16 members of their Federal Nominations Advisory Commission. From 2019-2022, Sara has been named annually by Atlanta Magazine as one of the top 500 Most Influential Leaders of Atlanta. In 2017, Sara was selected as a Strengthening Democracy Fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Sara has been recognized twice as a “Top 40 Under 40”, in 2010 by Georgia Trend Magazine and in 2012 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. In 2011, Atlanta Magazine named Sara as one of “Five of the Future” and in 2016, one of ten “New Guard” leaders of Atlanta. Georgia Trend annually named Sara a “Notable Person” from 2012 through 2017.
Sara is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Promise of Justice Initiative (Louisiana); Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Re:Power; a Board Member of Motherhood Beyond Bars (Georgia) alumna of Leadership Atlanta (Class of 2012); a past Chairperson of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; an Advisor for the Institute to End Mass Incarceration at Harvard Law School, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the Georgia Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and Good Thinking Atlanta; a member of the Georgia State Bar’s Indigent Defense Committee; serves on the Steering Committees of the International Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and We Demand Safety APS; and volunteers at Historic Oakland Cemetery and is an elected member of the GO Team at Parkside Elementary School.
Sara began her career at the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, an organization that employs a coordinated community response to end intimate partner violence.
Sara and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a child, settling in Chicago. She is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia.
Alexis Hoag joined the Brooklyn Law faculty as a professor in 2021. She teaches and writes in criminal law and procedure, evidence, and carceral abolition. Her recent scholarship examines the ways policies, doctrines, and practices within the criminal legal system erode people’s constitutional rights and perpetuate racial subordination. Professor Hoag’s scholarship has appeared in the New York University Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Harvard Law Review Blog, and other journals. She serves as a board member of the Death Penalty Information Center, is on the editorial board of the Amicus Journal, and co-chairs the capital punishment committee of the New York City Bar Association. In 2021, Professor Hoag was elected as a new member of the American Law Institute. A frequent legal contributor for CBSNews, Professor Hoag regularly provides on-air and in print analysis for CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets.
Prior to Brooklyn Law, Professor Hoag served as the inaugural practitioner-in-residence at the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil & Political Rights at Columbia University, and as a lecturer at Columbia Law School. She spent more than a decade as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, primarily representing capitally convicted clients in federal post-conviction proceedings, with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Office of the Federal Public Defender. She graduated from Yale University and NYU School of Law, where she was a Derrick Bell Public Interest Scholar. She served as a law clerk for Judge John T. Nixon of the United States District Court. In fall 2022, Professor Hoag will visit at Vanderbilt Law School to teach a short course on Movement Lawyering.