ORLANDO, Fla. – The conversation about criminal justice reform is both important and ongoing in our country right now.
To help facilitate that conversation, News 6 assembled a panel of experts to take part in our Real Talk: A Candid Conversation on criminal justice reform town hall on July 23 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Our panelists include those who know better than most the ins and outs of the American institution responsible for sentencing and imprisoning people every day. They are: Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, author Agnes Gomillion, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition president Desmond Meade and attorney Mark O’Mara.
Before our discussion, read a little more about each panelist. Then use the form at the bottom of this story to submit a question. Be sure to go to ClickOrlando.com/RealTalk to watch the event live for a chance to see your question answered.
Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala
Ayala has served as the leading prosecutor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida since being sworn in on Jan. 3, 2017, when she became the first Black state attorney in Florida’s history. During her time in office thus far, she’s created a nonmonetary bond policy, assembled a Brady committee to scrutinize potentially problematic recurring state witnesses and implemented a new initiative to keep juvenile offenders from becoming part of the system. She earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan, a juris doctor from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law and a master of science in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida.
Author Agnes Gomillion
Gomillion recently published “The Record Keeper,” an Afro-futurism novel focusing on a character named Arika “who frees her people from slavery in the post-apocalyptic South.” She studied English with an African-American literature focus at the University of Florida before earning her juris doctorate and legal master degree at Levin College of Law. The Florida native now lives in Longwood with her husband and son.
Florida Rights Restoration Coalition president Desmond Meade
Meade was one of the driving forces behind the successful effort to pass Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions. Formerly homeless, Meade has since been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2019 and Floridian and Central Floridian of the Year in 2018. He’s known for his efforts to civically engage local communities and push for alterations to national criminal justice policies.
Attorney Mark O’Mara
O’Mara is perhaps best known for representing George Zimmerman for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin in 2012. Since then, he’s served as a legal analyst for CNN and spoken on topics including race, criminal justice reform, guns and self-defense. He founded Justice Outreach, a nonprofit designed to identify and fix problems in the criminal justice system. Now based in Central Florida, O’Mara earned his juris doctor from Florida State University College of Law in 1982 and before that received his undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida in 1979.