Norris Henderson, a former OSI Soros Justice Fellow, is also the Executive Director of Voice of the Ex-Offender (V.O.T.E.). Norris has had tremendous success in his work impacting public policy and public discourse about police accountability, public defense for poor and indigent people, and reforming the notorious Orleans Parish Prison (OPP). As someone who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years, Norris shares first hand experience of racism and brutality of the criminal justice system with communities of color across the city. Self-taught in criminal law during his 27 years in prison as a paralegal, advocate and organizer. He is clear that only by working together can communities of color protect themselves from one of the most brutal criminal justice systems in the country and rebuild together a diverse New Orleans rich in culture and community. He has not only achieved significant wins in this area, but he has also built bridges with other communities of color, regularly speaking publicly in support of underprivileged communities in New Orleans and immigrant workers rights, and acting as a general liaison to other community organizations in the city.
Since his release in 2003 Norris has applied his legal expertise and community organizing skills to a number of leadership positions, including Co-Director of Safe Streets/Strong Communities and Community Outreach Coordinator of the Louisiana Justice Coalition.
Norris serves on a number of organizations’ Board of Directors including Family & Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children and acts as Board President of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.