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Jarrett Adams

Defense lawyer and author of Redeeming Justice

  • About Jarrett Adams

    Jarrett Adams is a criminal and civil rights attorney who saw first-hand the failures of the justice system, especially for people of color. At the age of 17, Jarrett Adams was sentenced to serve 28 years in maximum security by an all-white jury for a sexual assault crime he did not commit. While incarcerated, fueled by his desire for justice, Adams studied the legal textbooks in the prison’s law library and learned how the justice system and his own defense attorney had failed him. With the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, after serving nearly a decade in prison, Adams’s conviction was unanimously overturned on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, and all charges against him were dismissed.

    After his exoneration, Adams’ desire for justice now fueled a passion to seek it for others like himself.  As a first step, Adams earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of law. While in law school, Adams worked as a full-time federal investigator for the Illinois Federal Defender’s Program and was awarded the National Defender Investigator Association’s Investigator of the Year Award for his work with the clemency petition of Reynolds Wintersmith ultimately granted by President Obama in 2014.

    Following law school, Adams was a public interest fellow with the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the same court that reversed his conviction. Mr. Adams also clerked in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. Adams transitioned from his clerkships to the Innocent Project’s litigation team as its first exoneree staff attorney.

    Mr. Adams launched the Law Offices of Jarrett Adams, PLLC. in 2017 and practices in both federal and state court throughout the country. Mr. Adams has offices in Chicago, IL, Milwaukee, WI and New York, NY.

    Mr. Adams is also a co-founder of Life After Justice, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering exonerees to thrive while reclaiming their lives, after justice by battling unjust policies and laws, advocating for economic justice, and establishing a post-exoneration empowerment ecosystem focused on mental health and wellness support.

  • Speaking Topics

    Redeeming Justice

    Jarrett Adams was convicted at age seventeen of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to twenty-eight years in a maximum-security prison. After serving nearly ten years and filing multiple appeals, he was exonerated with the assistance of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Adams used the injustice he endured as inspiration to become an attorney and advocate for the underserved. In this uplifting speech Adams shares his life story encouraging audience members to persevere in the face of adversity.

    Fixing a Broken System

    Speaking from experience as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, experienced investigator, and exoneree Jarrett Adams discusses the need for criminal justice reform and an end to racial injustice in our legal system. In this lecture Adams looks at the racist tactics used to convict young men of color, the unique challenges facing exonerees once released, and the lack of equal representation in our courts, illustrating how upholders of the law have a collective responsibility to push social justice reform forward and how they must be more proactive in the space.

    Keeping Faith

    In this motivational lecture, Adams speaks on how to keep faith during times of hopelessness and despair; touching on the importance of family units and support through prayer.

  • Video

  • Praise for Jarrett Adams


    Roosevelt University was honored to have Attorney Jarrett Adams speak at an event on Criminal Justice Reform, which attracted over 200 guests. The authentic energy and passion Attorney Adams brought to the conversation on his work and how to address inequities in the justice system was exceptional. We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback on how Attorney Adam’s boldly shared his story and his fight to help people in the circumstances he faced. Not only did he engage the audience, but he left them inspired and full of hope.

    Roosevelt University

    What a pleasure it was to meet you and hear you speak! You have a powerful story to share, and one that I hope will increase awareness of the problems that need addressing within the criminal justice system. Your passion for change and your commitment to the issue was clear from your thought-provoking and meaningful presentation.

    State Bar of Wisconsin

    Praise for Redeeming Justice

    Nothing less than heroic.

    John Grisham

    Redeeming Justice is a beautifully written vessel of hope and redemption—each page a daring act of justified defiance in the face of a brutish penal system.

    Shaka Senghor, New York Times bestselling author of Writing My Wrongs

    In a moving and beautifully crafted memoir, without hyperbole or rants, Jarrett Adams compellingly demonstrates the institutionalized racism of the American criminal justice system. When you finish, you will be grasped by two emotions: unbounded admiration for the author, and a need to scream, ‘We must do something.’

    Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Presumed Innocent
  • Books by Jarrett Adams

  • Media About Jarrett Adams

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  • 212 572-2013

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