Civil Survival Executive Director, Tarra Simmons, recently sat down with Off-Kilter’s Rebecca Vallas to talk about her experiences with poverty, inequality and removing barriers to successful reintegration for justice-involved individuals.

Ms. Simmons told her story as part of Off-Kilter’s Second Chance Month series. She describes how her challenging upbringing and history of drug use led to a 20-month prison term. While she was incarcerated she received treatment and achieved recovery. She then enrolled in law school with the goal of helping to remove barriers to opportunities for other justice-involved individuals. While in law school she was awarded the prestigious Skadden Fellowship to pursue this work with the Public Defender Association in Washington State, only to find that the Bar Association recommended she be denied a chance to sit for the State Bar exam. Ms. Simmons was not deterred and sued for her right to take the exam. She got her second chance in a unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court in her favor.

Listen to this episode of Off-Kilter, titled “Farm Bill.”