Advisory Board Member
Norris Henderson is the Founder and Executive Director of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) and its sister organization, Voters Organized to Educate. Norris is a former OSI Soros Justice Fellow and has had tremendous success impacting public policy and discourse about reentry, police accountability, public defense for poor and indigent people, and reforming the notorious Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), also known as the Orleans Justice Center (OJC). In 2018, Norris served as the statewide campaign director for the Unanimous Jury Coalition, a ballot campaign that ended nonunanimous juries, a Jim Crow relic in Louisiana.
As someone who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years, Norris shares firsthand experience of the penal system’s racism and brutality and its impact on communities of color across Louisiana. He was a jailhouse lawyer, a co-founder of the Angola Special Civics Project, and a trailblazer for freeing other wrongfully convicted people prior to the inception of the Innocence Project. While incarcerated, Norris co-founded a hospice program and also drafted a successful parole reform law for Lifers.
Norris regularly speaks publicly in support of underprivileged communities in New Orleans and acts as a general liaison to other community organizations in the city. Since his release in 2003 Norris has applied his 27 years of self-taught 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’ boards of directors, including Common Justice. He is a co-founder and steering committee member of the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement, and winner of numerous awards in the civil rights community.