From the Nominator
"As a student in the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Shelisa Thomas regularly traveled to Stateville Correctional Center for class as part of the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP). Thomas left the maximum-security prison after every class, but many of her classmates could not.
Some NPEP classes combine non-incarcerated students with incarcerated students. In one of those classes, Thomas met Corzell Cole, who had been convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder for his role as the driver in a 2002 shooting. After Thomas' graduation in 2019, she and Cole stayed in contact. Both were convinced that Cole had been wrongfully convicted. Thomas assisted Cole in filing a clemency petition that ultimately led to his release from prison.
Northwestern’s Office of Global Marketing and Communications seized the opportunity to promote the restorative justice work of Northwestern alumni and faculty, as well as to continue shining a light on the transformative power of education, especially within the United States’ criminal justice system today.
As part of a larger content strategy, the film also accompanied an as-told-to essay in Northwestern Magazine by Thomas and was re-cut for promotion on social media. The video was viewed in various forms across platforms almost 16,000 times.
Finally, we cut a :30 second PSA version of the video that has aired multiple times on the Big Ten Network and during other televised Northwestern sporting events and which directs viewers to the Northwestern Magazine story page and full-length film."
From the Judges
This was an amazing and very inspirational story to highlight that kept us engaged from beginning to end. The time and effort described to gain access to film in a prison is noted. Many smart and excellent choices were made in creating this video—forgoing a voice narration to include first-person interviews to highlight a personal story, the people selected for the video, the music, text transitions and the execution and timing. The future of the program with a nod to the women's program was a nice touch.