Closing Plenary: From the Big House to the White House: Unlocking Potential


Wednesday, February 28, 2024
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Session Type: Plenary

Attorney Christopher Poulos shares his personal and professional path from trauma, addiction, homelessness, and prison to college, law school, serving in the White House, and becoming a senior state government corrections and reentry executive. Poulos’s talk weaves between personal experiences and the larger policy and practice issues involving pretrial, incarceration, and community supervision. He will share about the importance of support and accountability versus only surveillance and punishment and the vital role probation officers and other justice stakeholders can have in helping people positively redirect their lives.


Christopher Poulos
Executive Director, Center for Justice and Human Dignity

Christopher Poulos is an attorney, speaker, writer, consultant, and the Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Human Dignity. Poulos has served as Director of Person-Centered Services at the Washington State Department of Corrections and executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council. Poulos also developed a course on drug law and policy that he taught at Seattle University School of Law. Prior to his appointment to the Reentry Council, he served as executive director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an adjunct professor of criminal justice. During law school, he served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. While at the White House, he helped redesign stigmatizing language previously used by the federal government regarding addiction and justice system involvement to reduce discrimination and promote successful reentry and recovery. Prior to law school, Poulos overcame many obstacles, including tragic family losses, addiction, homelessness, and a federal incarceration. He now dedicates his life to helping others overcome or avoid similar challenges, and he supports a public health-based approach to addressing addiction. His work promotes equal access to the law and seeks to address mass incarceration and the collateral consequences now facing the tens of millions of people with criminal convictions.