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Transforming Systems

A Conversation with Elizer Darris

Elizer Darris is the Co-Executive Director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund – an organization that disrupts the predatory practices of criminal bail and immigration bonds. Chanda sat down with Elizer to talk about the trappings of the criminal justice system and what it takes to be a changemaker.

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About Our Guest

Elizer Darris

Elizer is the Co-Executive Director with the Minnesota Freedom Fund. He works to reduce mass incarceration, reform the criminal legal system, and create racial equity. As a juvenile, he was sentenced to life in prison. But he studied in prison and worked with his state-appointed counsel to get his life sentence reversed on appeal. Upon his release, Elizer became a business owner, consultant, educator, community organizer, youth mentor, and motivational speaker. Elizer was an African American Leadership Forum (AALF) 2017 Josie R. Johnson Leadership Fellow, was the field operations director for the Nekima Levy-Pounds for Minneapolis Mayor Campaign in 2017, Campaign Manager for Anika Bowie’s Campaign for St. Paul City Council in 2019, established a consultancy, Darris Consulting Group, where he works with local and county governments to help them center community voice in their policies and practices. Elizer served on the 2019 statewide Working Group empaneled by the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Public Safety that focused on creating and implementing strategies to reduce law enforcement deadly force encounters. He serves on multiple boards and was recently been appointed by Governor Tim Walz in 2020 to the State Board of Public Defense.