On March 23, 2015, Charlotte School of Law’s Criminal Law Society hosted a Death Penalty panel through the leadership of 3L Bradley Owens, Delaware native, former Delaware prison counselor, and legal intern at the 8th Amendment Project. Prior to coming to law school, Owens served as a prison counselor, under the mentorship of former Delaware Bureau Chief of Prisons Mike Deloy. For many years, Chief Deloy oversaw the executions of condemned prisoners. With his help, Owens had the opportunity to work in a maximum security prison where Delaware housed its death row inmates. This experience would spark the interests of Henderson Hill, Executive Director of the 8th Amendment Project and initiate an involvement with the Delaware campaign to abolish the death penalty. However, the death penalty is not what peaked Owen’s interest in criminal law—his life was.
As a teenager, Owens had a few run-ins with the law, “I was just privileged enough not to have my criminal record block my future,” he said. “What really changed my life was the tragic death of my 18 year old sister when I was 20.” Owens lost his sister in a drunk driving accident following a college party, a party Owens attended with his sister, Jordyn Owens. Jordyn left the party a few minutes before Owens. It was on his way home that he discovered the accident and helplessly watched his sister pass away. After his sister’s death, Owens started Jordyn K. Owens Foundation to support educational programs for Delaware’s youth on topics such as: the dangers of alcohol, drinking and driving, and the importance of making smart choices. Owens traveled to high schools around the state of Delaware, speaking to thousands of teenagers in a “cool and relatable way,” not so much as a preachy, “don’t do this because it’s bad, way,” said Owens.
In 2013, Owens moved to North Carolina to be closer to his daughter, Alivia Jordyn, who is now three years old. In spring 2013, Owens enrolled in Charlotte School of Law.
Upon starting at Charlotte School of Law, Owens became involved with the Criminal Law Society as the Community Service Chair. Through this capacity, Owens reached out to Karen Simon at the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Dept. Simon immediately took Owens under her wings and shared with him the mentorship needs of the 16 and 17 year old boys housed at Jail North. Simon offered Owens the opportunity to develop an evidence-based program to meet this need. In summer, 2014, Owens met Dee Rankin, CEO and Executive Director of Future L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Owens the opportunity he was presented with by Simon to Rankin. Owens and Rankin’s relationships would lead to the inception of the “Invisible to Invincible” mentoring program.
For the past year and a half, Owens has been tirelessly working with Rankins, to develop a juvenile mentoring program for 16 and 17 year old boys in the Mecklenburg County Jails. Thus far, with the assistance of Charlotte School of Law’s Criminal Law Society members, Owens has hosted weekly programs at Jail-North and is currently drafting a federal grant proposal for approximately $200,000 that would fortify Future L.E.A.D.E.R.S and the new mentoring program. Owens is able to assist with the grant writing process, as an advanced clinic student in Charlotte School of Law’s Community Economic Development clinic, under the supervision of Professor Rocky Cabagnot.
Bradley Owens is a graduate of Westchester University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Criminal Justice. Owens plans to graduate from Charlotte School of Law with his J.D. a semester early. Additionally, Owens hopes to return to Delaware to replication the juvenile mentoring model with the Delaware Juvenile Justice system. Owens will continue his advocacy on the death penalty issue and ultimately aspires to serve his home state of Delaware in the House of Representatives. To learn more about Owen’s “Invisible to Invincible” project, contact Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.