Meet the Staff
Mistery Onkabetse Itumeleng, International Liaison for Justice Reform/Director of Justice through Prayer
Mystery Onkabetse Itumeleng comes to us from Johannesburg, South Africa, and will be joining our staff as an International Liaison for Justice Reform. Mystery is a qualified social worker with additional experience in child foster care, child trauma counseling, and victims of crime, offenders and ex-offenders. She has experience in victim empowerment, via working at the Department of Social Development-Mahikeng service point; responsibilities included liaising with the Mmabatho Police station and working through cases reported by the police. Crisis intervention and counseling were part of the intervention methods depending on the severity and urgency of the incidents. She previously worked at an NGO with the vision of crime prevention and victim empowerment, as an intern as well her experience at the time revolved around ex-offenders and youth-at-risk. The knowledge acquired from ex-offenders has both assisted in restorative justice, other roles included that of a social media assistant. At campus - community level, she worked for NWUFM105.5 learning to fulfill multiple roles as required; radio personality, news presenter and head of news, content producer and when necessary music compiler. I was branded for the gospel show; SolaceAvenue that she both hosted and produced. In print communication, she has experience as a journalist working up to editor. She regards both career lanes as complementary and necessary skill set within community, societal and governmental development. This is the package. She excels in both independent and team environments, a diligent individual, creative with a curious mind and a heart to serve. She was also part of the media team in her previous place of fellowship, very recent departure and is currently working in training for a Media/PR/Talent Management and Events agency. Her interests are in human rights, advocacy, social justice, journalism, empowerment, research, public speaking, storytelling and blogging.
We are extremely honored to have the opportunity to mentor Mystery and to also learn all that she has to bring to the table. Mystery will be getting her feet wet by working hands-on with the 10-part series we have coming up next month and will move forward with the completed dossier as we transform it into "Signed, Justice Wants," a comprehensive piece of legislation that will cover all aspects of wrongful conviction causes and best practice to prevent them. We are so very blessed to have her in on the ground floor and we are tremendously excited at the prospect of where this partnership can take us.
Debra Fulton; Director of Case Management
Debra became interested in the wrongful convictions field much like many others, by listening to the Serial Podcast. She had so many questions after listening that she began to research the Adnan Syed case on her own. Since then, Debra has earned her bachelor's degree from Northern Vermont University in Professional Studies with a focus on "Preventing Injustice" with the hopes of inspiring others to join the movement and get involved. "What you know about a case is not always the full story," Debra said. "People need to dig deeper to seek the full truth."
While in the pursuit of her degree, Debra attended The American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, where she was a panelist with her focus directed on the Central Park Five case. She is also cited as a student-author of the scholarly article, "Analyzing Wrongful Convictions beyond the Traditional Canonical List of Errors, for Enduring Structural and Sociological Attributes, (Juveniles, Racism, Adversary System, Policing Policies)."
Michael Knight; Columnist
Michael Knight is a valued columnist here at WCN, reporting on the latest topics affecting wrongful convictions in our "Weekly Chat" column. Michael earned both his Doctor of Jurisprudence and his Criminal Law Graduate Certificate in 2016 from Indiana University McKinney School of Law. He is passionate about criminal justice reform issues, including: wrongful convictions, abolishing the death penalty and LWOP, and ending mass incarceration. Throughout his legal education and career, he has worked in a variety of roles, including work with: the IU Wrongful Conviction Clinic, the IU Criminal Defense Clinic, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Indiana Senate Majority Attorney's Office, and Clemency Project 2014. Michael most recently served as an agency Policy Director for the State of Indiana. Deeply committed to community service, Michael has been awarded the Lefstein Award of Excellence for Pro Bono Service and the William M. Plater Civic Engagement Award. Michael lives in Indiana with his wife and four children.
Tammy Alexander; Correspondent
Tammy Alexander came on board with WCN from its inception as a correspondent. Tammy is the co-founder of Justice for Illinois Wrongfully Convicted (JIWC) and the President of the Committee to Free Jamie Snow (CFJS). As part of her work on the Jamie Snow case, Ms. Alexander and colleagues have uncovered numerous critical pieces of evidence through public records that were not disclosed to the defense prior to trial. She has also co-organized numerous online campaigns and offline events in Illinois in support of the innocent imprisoned. Ms. Alexander has a bachelor's degree in Network Security & Forensics and a Master's degree in Education. Throughout her career, Ms. Alexander has conducted numerous workshops on cyber security, online competitive intelligence, and online scams. She also served as president of the FBI Infragard (Knoxville & Memphis, TN), and was the 2007 recipient of the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award. You can follow her work on the Jamie Snow case at: freejamiesnow.com
Liz Franklin; Founder & CEO
Liz Franklin achieved both her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on forensic linguistics and her Master's degree in Criminal Justice Management at Lindenwood University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Since graduating in 2015, she has continued to supplement her education with courses such as those offered by the U of I Springfield, where she completed the MOOC online course on wrongful convictions and a symposium offered by the Georgia Innocence Project on "Preparing Your Case." She is a four time attendee of the Innocence Network Conference and currently works with the Illinois Innocence Project. In addition to founding Wrongful Convictions News, she is also the COO of Justice-NOT-Politics, the owner of Wrongful Convictions Consulting, and the primary author of "Signed, Justice Wants," the most comprehensive state-level legislation to date, addressing the many issues afflicting our criminal justice system today. She has been honored to be the keynote speaker on wrongful convictions at numerous engagements, co-hosted various educational rallies for criminal justice reform, and spearheaded protests against injustices.
Andrea Marie Franklin; Researcher
Andrea Franklin became passionate about the wrongful convictions plight through the osmosis of being exposed to it as the daughter of founder, Liz Franklin. As one who stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, her chosen career is as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) for Willows Way, a community lifestyle that "empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live a life beyond limits through personalized support and community engagement." As our staff researcher, Andrea is the one we turn to, to hunt down those impossible to-find-statistics or verify (fact-check) a story. Her tenacious skillset makes her perfect for this job--we know we can always count on her and her tireless dedication.