Daryl V. Atkinson is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) where he focuses on drug policy and criminal justice reform issues, particularly removing the legal barriers triggered by contact with the criminal justice system. In 1996, Daryl pled guilty to a first-time, non-violent, drug crime and served 40 months in prison. Since his release, Daryl completed college and law school and has become a zealous advocate for second chances for people with criminal records.
Daryl received a B.A. in Political Science from Benedict College, Columbia, SC and a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, MN. Prior to coming to SCSJ, Daryl was a staff attorney at the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) where he coordinated the Systems Evaluation Project (SEP), which pioneered a first-of-its kind evaluation tool for indigent defense systems. Daryl went on to help develop the Collateral Consequence Assessment Tool (C-CAT), an online searchable database that allows the user to identify the collateral consequences triggered by North Carolina arrests, indictments, and convictions.
Daryl is a founding member of the North Carolina Second Chance Alliance, a burgeoning statewide coalition of advocacy organizations, service providers, and directly impacted people that came together to achieve the safe and successful reintegration of adults and juveniles returning home from incarceration. Daryl serves on the North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services Commission and the Commission for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.
Most notably, on June 30, 2014, Daryl was recognized by the White House as a “Reentry and Employment Champion of Change” for his extraordinary work to facilitate employment opportunities for people with criminal records. According to the White House press release associated with the honor, “The Champions have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary dedication and hard work to help those with criminal records re-enter society with dignity and viable employment opportunities.” Attorney General Eric Holder recognized Daryl’s transformative journey in his remarks when he said “Daryl overcame his own involvement with the criminal justice system and has since worked to build a better future not only for himself – but for countless others who deserve a second chance.”