Kendra Cashman, a Xavier University junior, is committed to examining legal and moral issues related to capital punishment, mass incarceration, and human trafficking. She works directly with those affected by harsh sentencing laws, and produced academic research that demonstrates moral and economic arguments for abolishing the death penalty. Her most recent engagement in community allows her to intervene early in our criminal justice process as a counselor and advocate for juveniles caught up in our system of justice.
I first became interested in addressing the racial and economic issues associated with our criminal justice system after reading "Just Mercy." After examining author Bryan Stevenson’s perspective and insights, I was inspired to get involved in advocating and empowering individuals, first by attending anti-death penalty meetings at a local non-profit, and later writing letters to a member of Ohio’s Death Row which provided me a deeper, more personal connection to the injustices within the system. My frustration with our current process of capital punishment inspired a semester long research project where I attempted to demonstrate the detrimental economic impacts of the death penalty, particularly the wasteful diversion of funds that could reduce criminal activity in the first place. As an intern in the Public Defender’s Office, I am concerned about the lack of resources available to those accused in the criminal justice system and contribute my time advocating for juveniles who are particularly at-risk. Following graduation, I hope to continue working directly with individuals, and at a macro level, towards wider, systemic change in our justice system.