School of Law News

School of Law Alumnus Receives Prestigious Award

Posted Friday, July 26, 2013

Peter Wagner, a 2003 graduate of the School of Law, was recently awarded the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ 3rd Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award. This award is granted to individuals whose exceptional efforts have led toward progressive reform of the state criminal justice system.

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Wagner is currently serving as Attorney and Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. He is being recognized for his decade-long work to expose how the United States criminal justice system negatively impacts all people, even those who are not directly involved in the legal system. He found that by using an archaic Census Bureau policy which counts incarcerated individuals as residents artificially inflates the resident count and thus political influence. After discovering problems with the current system, Wagner built and led a bipartisan urban and rural movement to abolish the practice of “prison gerrymandering.”

Wagner's work has been featured in hundreds of papers around the country and he has won editorial endorsement for criminal justice reform from publications ranging from The New York Times and the Boston Globe to the Terre Haute Tribune and Virginia's Roanoke Times.

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