Jason Hernandez was sentenced to life without parole for a nonviolent drug offense in 1998 at the age of 21. While incarcerated Jason became a “jailhouse attorney” and began litigating on his own behalf and the behalf of others. In 2011, he started a grassroots organization in prison called Crack Open The Door, which advocated for nonviolent drug offenders serving life without parole. In 2011 Jason, on his own, sent a petition and letter to President Barack Obama asking for a reduction in his sentence. On December 19, 2013 Jason became one of the first to receive clemency from President Obama as a member of the group known as the “Obama 8.” Since his release in 2015 Jason has assisted six other individuals serving life sentences in receiving clemency from President Obama.
Jason is a criminal justice reform advocate and has written for and been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN and other major media outlets. He is also a recipient of a Latino Justice Fellowship and was awarded the Volunteer of the Year in his city, Dallas, by two different organizations. Currently he is promoting the mass utilization of clemency on the state and federal levels though a Soros Justice Fellowship and also works with youth in his city.