2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Megan Toomer

The Project

At the Southern Center for Human Rights, Megan will provide zealous parole advocacy for incarcerated people seeking their freedom before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (the “Board”) has a history of denying parole applications. In 2018, 54% of incarcerated people were granted parole, and that number dropped to 31% in 2019, 15% in 2020, and just 3% in 2021. The low parole grant rate exacerbates overcrowding in the Alabama Department of Corrections, which results in dangerous and even fatal conditions within the state’s prisons.

Every person seeking parole needs and deserves zealous advocacy to ensure their testimonies are heard before the Board. The steep decline in the parole grant rate in Alabama, and Alabama’s dangerously overcrowded prisons, underscore the urgent need for parole advocacy.

Fellowship Plans

Megan’s project will train legal and non-legal volunteers to provide parole-eligible individuals with passionate advocacy before the Board. Legal and non-legal advocacy for clients will increase their likelihood of success in their parole hearings. During her Fellowship, Megan will develop relationships with firms and non-legal volunteers in Alabama and Georgia to create pro bono opportunities for volunteers interested in parole advocacy, create parole advocacy presentations to train volunteers preparing for parole advocacy, and collect data concerning parole grant rates during the Fellowship.

Many of Megan’s family members have been deeply impacted by the criminal legal system, whether from incarceration, juvenile detention, probation, or parole. Megan’s connection to the criminal legal system motivates her commitment to providing zealous parole advocacy for individuals seeking their freedom in Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Corrections disproportionately ensnares low-income people of color. I am honored to provide advocates in Alabama and Georgia with the tools to ensure incarcerated people, who are often silenced, have a meaningful opportunity to seek their freedom.

Megan Toomer /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow