ARC, Inc. seeks to transform the U.S. criminal justice system by providing comprehensive and accurate life history investigation to decision-makers in order to inform the fates of individuals facing the most severe penalties.
“You probably don’t know or realize it but you gave me a second chance at life.... All the things I’m experiencing now you told me that I would way back but I couldn’t see it then. I’m glad I trusted you and listened. Just think I didn’t even have grandkids then.” 
- Letter from Derrick, a former client
When I met Derrick, he believed that he deserved to die. He had confessed to killing two of his closest friends. He was full of remorse and shame, and did not see a future for himself. As the mitigation specialist working with Derrick, not only did I need to help court decision-makers see the value of Derrick’s life, I needed to help him believe in his own value.

I spent countless hours with Derrick, learning about his life, his struggles, and those he cared about and who cared about him. Ultimately, because of the trusting relationship we developed, he accepted a life-saving plea. In doing so, he also spared the victims’ families the trauma of a trial and of many years of litigation in the event that he was sentenced to death.

Although Derrick’s case ended, we continue to write each other. His letters now include updates about his grandchildren—a possibility he couldn’t see for himself when we first met. He often thanks me for helping him take that plea and, in his words, “saving his life.”

Our work is not just about collecting records and interviewing people. It is about helping people see the humanity in each other and in themselves. Every day, our team fights to make sure our clients' lives are valued. That is what we want to bring to the defense practice because that's what's needed if we are to make the criminal justice system less retributive.

Elizabeth Vartkessian, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Advancing Real Change, Inc.
For more of Derrick’s story, see ARC, Inc.’s 2016 Annual Report.
This month, Eat, Drink, and Do Justice goes international! If you are in the London area, please join us on October 30 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm at the Reed Smith London office. We are honored to have journalist David Rose join us to discuss the case of Carlton Gary, which he has been involved with for more than 20 years. Elizabeth Vartkessian will also share information on our work at ARC, Inc. The evening promises to provide an in-depth look at some of the major issues in the U.S. criminal justice system—and what can be done to create much-needed change. 

If you can't join us, please help spread the word to friends, family, and colleagues. This will be a seated event, so advance replies are very helpful. Attendees can RSVP here or by emailing Erin at

Finally, thank you to everyone who joined us for our event last month. We were pleased to see so many of you come out to learn about and support our work by donating, volunteering, and helping us set up future outreach events. It is an honor to work with so many who want to see a justice system that is rooted in the values of empathy, mercy, and equity.
Calling All Maryland State Employees! 

Do you or someone you know work for the State of Maryland? Join this year's Maryland Charity Campaign—it's an easy, meaningful way to support ARC, Inc. 

Just $1 per pay period means that we can provide a defender with one day of intensive training in critical mitigation topics.

Just $2 per pay period allows us to provide a month of support to a client through our Client Assistance Fund. The fund helps clients obtain basic need items that are not provided in prison and helps them stay in touch with loved ones. 

Your gift in any amount—$5, $10, or more per pay period—will provide support where it is needed most, whether it is funding pro bono hours for high-needs cases, consulting with defense teams in need of assistance, or providing larger-scale trainings. We are a small organization, so your gift in any amount makes a big difference!
Visit the campaign page to make your pledge.
Our MCC code is 352518417.

Do you have questions about the campaign? Are you interested in having us participate in an MCC event or in sharing ARC, Inc. materials with your office? Contact Erin at
Copyright © 2017 Advancing Real Change, Inc., All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp