“I think the biggest public misconception about public defenders is that we don’t care and we are poor attorneys, poor meaning we don’t do a very good job and we don’t know how to try cases,” said Brandy Alexander, assistant public defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit in Florida.
Clark Porter was 17 when he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for robbing a downtown post office at gunpoint. He spent 15 years in prison and today helps some of the toughest ex-offenders turn their lives around.
Credit Courtesy of Washington Universtiy in St. Louis
Porter was hired by Chief U.S. Probation Officer Douglas Burris, who was initially taken aback by the idea of an ex-felon working for the probation office.
Credit Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis
Every weekday, Clark Porter, a tall man with a sturdy build, walks into the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis to work with tough ex-offenders. On the outside, he wears a suit and tie. But on the inside, he has more in common with the former felons than most.
Back in 1986, a skinny 17-year-old Porter went on trial there as an adult for robbing a post office at gunpoint. His sentence: 35 years.
Clark Porter is a social worker at the Federal Probation Office in St. Louis. Once upon a time, he was a violent felon. But he turned his life around and is now helping ex-offenders on probation do the same.
In the second of a two-part series, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach reports on a program Porter and a colleague created that’s keeping many ex-offenders out of prison.
There are thousands of people on federal probation in the St. Louis area. And officials are always looking for ways to keep them from going back to prison, by creating new programs and hiring new people.
In the first of a two-part series on the federal probation office in the Eastern District, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach reports that the office has an unlikely secret weapon.