Jarrett Adams; Criminal Defense Lawyer; Chicago
This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Jarrett Adams, a criminal defense lawyer, cofounder of the nonprofit Life After Justice, and author of the memoir, ‘Redeeming Justice.’ The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
I don’t have a story of being on the streets selling drugs and coming from a bad family. I have a grandmother, family, and friends, and often we’d get in the car and go to different places outside of our neighborhood. I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a rough neighborhood, so we’d go hang out in other places because we didn’t want to get shot by the cops or by gang members.
In the summer of 1998, my friends and I go to a party after graduating high school. There’s everything you can think of: kids partying, there’s drinking. It’s a mostly white school, and we’re some of the only Black students there.