Lori Curry (she/her)
Lori Curry is the founder and Executive Director of Missouri Prison Reform. She has lived in southwest Missouri her whole life. Prior to beginning her work in advocacy, she worked with adults and children with special needs. She enjoys helping others and being a voice for those whose voices aren’t always heard. Lori enjoys spending time with her family and friends when she’s not doing advocacy work.
Dr. Sami Abdel-Salam (he/his)
Dr. Sami Abdel-Salam joined the WCU Department of Criminal Justice faculty in 2013. Prior to beginning at WCU, he worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Drug and Health Studies at the University of Delaware. Here he served as Project Director for a national study involving the implementation of evidence-based practices for substance abuse treatment in correctional settings. This research culminated in a number of significant publications in numerous criminal justice & substance abuse journals. His other interests include comparative penology & prison reform. His current research is focused on evaluating the Norwegian correctional system, specifically with regards to its humane & rehabilitative approach to incarceration. As a result of this research, Dr. Abdel-Salam has participated in multiple national & international conferences, including the Nobel Peace Prize Form, to share his findings. He continues to work with Norwegian & U.S. correctional officials to promote the benefits of a Scandinavian approach to prison reform.
Chelsea Mérta (she/hers)
Secretary and Treasurer
Chelsea Mérta is an attorney & political strategist based in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a graduate of Indiana University – Bloomington (2011) & Saint Louis University School of Law (2014), & has dedicated her life & professional career to public service, government accountability & transparency, & fairness in the legal system. In her free time, Chelsea enjoys gardening & urban farming, hiking with her dogs, cooking with her partner, & advocating for a better, more equitable St. Louis for all.
Dr. Chandler Easley (she/hers)
Dr. Easley acts as a Learning Specialist for the University of Iowa Student-Athlete Academic Services department where her primary focus is to support student-athletes as learners, leaders, & thriving Hawkeyes & encourage their success at the University of Iowa & beyond. She earned both her B.S. in English Education & M.A. in English from the University of Missouri & her Doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy from Sacramento State University. Chandler has served as an English teacher in many states across the country & in classrooms ranging from 7th grade through college. Her research focus includes the racial discipline gap of underrepresented high school students leading to the disparity of these populations in the prison pipeline. These concerns brought her attention to the Missouri Prison Reform group where she currently sits on the executive board.
Amy Breihan is a Co-Director with the Missouri office of the MacArthur Justice Center (MJC), a non-profit civil rights law firm that fights for racial, gender, social, and economic justice through litigation on behalf of people involved in the carceral and criminal legal systems. Amy joined MJC as a staff attorney when it opened a new Missouri office in 2016.
Prior to joining MJC, Amy was a trial attorney with the law firm of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, in both their Chicago and St. Louis offices. She has extensive trial, appellate, and mediation experience and has prioritized public interest work throughout her career.
Since 2012, Amy has been part of a team of advocates helping to lead efforts to seek second-chance sentences for Missouri youth sentenced to die behind bars. For the last several years, she has both provided direct representation to those clients and worked for changes in the law to end juvenile life without parole sentences. That work included state and federal habeas litigation, as well as a successful class action culminating in a systemic overhaul of the parole process for juvenile lifers. Under the reformed process, juvenile parole hearings have gone from an 86% denial rate to a 100% grant rate. Amy is the recipient of the 2020 ABA’s Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award for her work on behalf of juvenile lifers. In addition, she has played a pivotal part in state-wide litigation related to, among other things: inadequate treatment for inmates with chronic Hepatitis C; the parole revocation process that impacts thousands of Missouri parolees; Missouri’s chronically under-resourced and over-burdened public defender system; and the protection of individuals’ First Amendment rights, especially the right to protest against police violence and racial injustice.
Amy is a 2010 graduate of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. While in law school, Amy served as a student attorney with the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, where she helped represent clients in post-conviction, actual innocence cases. Amy is a proud alumna of Grinnell College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2006. She is an avid gardener, and lives in St. Louis with her partner, three young children, and menagerie of animals.