Finding Forgiveness and Hope
Jarrett shares his story from foster care to mass incarceration to criminal justice reform advocate as an example of how people who commit serious crimes are not only deserving of our compassion, but also a second chance to share the tremendous, life-affirming gifts they bring to the world. While society gave up on Jarrett, he never gave up on himself, and he used his gifts to help others in prison, never believing it would change his own circumstances. In his transformational remarks, Jarrett gives audiences a new way to look at the criminal justice system, most significantly the foster-care-to-prison pipeline, as well as an alternative lens to see their own lives. Even when the person we most need to forgive is ourselves, Jarrett echoes Just Mercy author Bryan Stephenson and powerfully reminds us that each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done. Jarrett's power of persuasion is tied to the way in which he encourages us to take absolute responsibility for our actions and our mindset, while at the same time walking righteously into our new beginning.
Jarrett Harper is a criminal justice and foster care reform advocate working to stop life sentences for children, develop better rehabilitation resources for those returning to society, and put an end to the foster care-to-prison pipeline.
Jarrett is a survivor of the California foster care system and endured 20 years of mass incarceration. After experiencing unimaginable trauma and abuse, at 16, Jarrett took the life of his abuser to protect himself and his younger brother. A year later, he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus ten years. Despite having no chance of release from prison, he found forgiveness and hope and transformed his own life by helping change the lives of other men in prison who had the opportunity to get out.
After 20 years of creating and facilitating self-improvement programs for his peers, Jarrett’s sentence was commuted by Governor Jerry Brown through the tireless work of a group of dedicated advocates. On June 18, 2019, he was released from prison by Governor Gavin Newsom. Shortly after his release, Jarrett became an ambassador for Represent Justice’s Just Mercy campaign and has quickly become a sought-after speaker, booking engagements for Verizon, Google, YouTube, Jordan Park, USC, Princeton, Big Brothers, and Big Sisters, Human Rights Watch, and Parole Justice That Works.