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Author & Criminal Justice Advocate
Kemba Smith Pradia went from college student to drug dealer’s girlfriend to domestic violence victim to federal prisoner; and 1994 she was sentenced to 24.5 years in federal prison. Kemba’s case drew support from across the nation. Read More >
Often labeled the “poster child” for reversing a disturbing trend in the rise of lengthy sentences for first-time, non-violent drug offenders, Kemba’s story was featured on a variety of television shows and in several publications. The support prompted then President Clinton to commute her sentence in December 2000, after having served 6.5 years in prison.
Today, Kemba is a wife, mother, public speaker, advocate, consultant and author of Poster Child. She has worked with senior officials at The White House, the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Members of Congress, and has led trainings for Federal and State Probation organizations across the country. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her courage and determination as a motivational speaker and advocate. In 2019, Kemba was appointed to the Virginia Parole Board by Governor Ralph Northam and she continues to serve on the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. Prior to her appointment, she held the position of State Advocacy Campaigns Director with the ACLU of Virginia.
Along with being an advocate for criminal justice reform, Kemba is the founder of her 501 (c) 3, The Kemba Smith Foundation. Ultimately, Kemba knows that there is a lesson in each experience in life, and she has embraced her experience, learned from it, and is now using that experience to teach others. Read Less ^
“If experience is the best teacher, Kemba Smith is the perfect person to warn young adults about making costly, life-changing mistakes.”
“Granted clemency by President Bill Clinton in 2000 after serving six years of her federal sentence, Smith has since become a leading advocate for sentencing reform.”
“Kemba is a national public speaker talking to youth in particular young women about the drug laws, making healthy choices, keeping education a priority and the importance of counseling to prevent the school to prison pipeline that’s sweeping across America.”
“But Kemba Smith knows the effect it (restoration) will have on each person who has an opportunity to vote. Without the right to vote you can’t feel like a full member of a community, a member who has a stake in the system.”
“So many of the women I work with have all kinds of situations in life – choosing the wrong people in their life, drugs, alcohol. [Smith] has such a victorious story that I knew that if I could get her here, so that those women could hear her and see what God has done, that it could transform [their] thinking.”
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