Board of Directors
HRDC's current Board of Directors includes:
Mr. Axtell is a computer professional and human rights activist.
Rick Best is a not-for-profit consultant working primarily in financial management. He also practices law and is part of the legal team litigating civil rights violations arising out of the mass arrests during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. He served two years in federal prison for draft resistance during the Vietnam War and was Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild from 1992 to 1995.
Bell Chevigny is professor emeritus of literature at Purchase College, SUNY. She has served on the PEN Prison Writing Program for more than twenty years, three of them as chair. The Prison Writing Program offers an annual literary competition to incarcerated men and women nationwide. With the support of a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship, she compiled Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing, a PEN American Center anthology. She has written extensively about incarcerated writers, their struggles for dignity and justice, and their literary accomplishments.
Howard Friedman is the principal in the Law Offices of Howard Friedman P.C., a civil litigation firm in Boston, Massachusetts. Howard's practice emphasizes representing plaintiffs in civil rights cases, particularly cases involving law enforcement, including police misconduct and prisoners' rights litigation. Howard began his career in 1977 as a staff attorney at the Prisoners' Rights Project in Boston. He is the past President of the National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild and served as chair of the Civil Rights Section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now the American Association for Justice). He is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Goddard College.
Mike Godwin is an attorney and author specializing in free speech and intellectual property issues.
Judy Greene is a criminal justice policy analyst and the founding director of Justice Strategies. Previously she was the recipient of a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship. She has served as a research associate for the RAND Corporation, as a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School, and as director of the State-Centered Program for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. From 1985 to 1993 she was Director of Court Programs at the Vera Institute of Justice.
Sheila Rule is co-founder of the Think Outside the Cell Foundation. The foundation works to end the stigma of imprisonment and offers programs for those impacted by incarceration. She began working with prisoners in 2001 when she joined the Riverside Church Prison Ministry in New York City and was asked to correspond with incarcerated men and women. Inspired by their rich potential, she started the publishing company Resilience Multimedia to publish books that present a fairer image of those who have spent time behind prison walls. She is also on the board of Good Shepherd Services, a leading New York social services agency serving vulnerable children and families. Prior to her retirement she was a journalist at the New York Times for more than 30 years, including seven as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Europe.
Peter Sussman is an author and freelance journalist, and was a longtime editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. He has received numerous awards for his advocacy for media access to prisoners. He is the co-author, with prison writer Dannie M. Martin, of Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog, and wrote a chapter on media and prisons for Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, edited by Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind.
Bill Trine has been a trial lawyer for the people for 49 years; he is a past president and founder of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ, now Public Justice), past president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and a board member of other trial lawyer groups. He has been the senior partner in his own law firm for many years and is in the process of trying to retire to do more writing and teaching. He started a national prison project through TLPJ in 2005 and has been plaintiff's counsel in prison cases for several years, including class-actions arising out of a riot at a CCA-operated prison in Colorado. He helped start the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College in 1994, and has been a member of the school's faculty and board since its beginning.
Paul Wright is the editor of Prison Legal News and executive director and founder of the Human Rights Defense Center and its predecessor organization, Prisoners Legal News. He is responsible for PLN's editorial content and HRDCs public advocacy and outreach efforts and fundraising. He was incarcerated for 17 years in Washington State and was released in 2003. See Paul's more extended biography.