Jarrett Harper

Represent Justice Ambassador and Activist

Jarrett Harper is a System-impacted returning citizen who became a criminal justice reform advocate after surviving the foster care system and mass incarceration for 20 years. Jarrett spent the first 16 years of his life in multiple abusive foster homes as a troubled, at-risk foster youth that experienced unimaginable trauma by an abuser who befriended him as a little boy. That toxic encounter consumed Jarrett with shame and anger, which led him to take the life of his abuser in an attempt to protect himself and his younger brother. At the age of just 17-years-old, Jarrett received a life sentence without the possibility of parole plus ten years.

Despite having no chance for release from prison, Jarrett found forgiveness and hope. After years of deep introspection and reflection upon his life, he made it his mission to transform his own life by helping others change theirs. Jarrett has an intimate knowledge of the pitfalls of destructive thinking and the behavior of young people who are in the process of learning new and healthier ways to exist in the world. He has experience implementing youth organizations, therapeutic programs, and classes structured around healing and positive behavior to maximize human potential. In addition to social justice reform, public speaking, leadership building, training and mentoring, his skill set and mindset taps into the resourcefulness of people to initiate creative solutions. He has experience in teaching cognitive behavior therapy, trauma awareness and healing dialogue with certification from The Catalyst Foundation, which focuses on restorative justice and creating a healing society.

After years of hard work and the support of advocates like Bryan Stevenson, John Legend, Ty Stiklorius, Human Rights Watch, Loyola Law school and many other supporters, on August 17, 2018, after serving 20 years, Jarrett’s sentence was commuted by Governor Jerry Brown. On June 18, 2019 he was released from prison by Governor Gavin Newsom. Jarrett is a passionate advocate working for equality, positive change in the foster system, ending life sentences for juvenile offenders, and creating more resources for rehabilitation for those returning to society.