Claudia Whitman, the Woman Behind the Scenes
Claudia Whitman – Founder and CEO of NCCAN
Claudia Whitman is an energetic woman with a passion for justice. Single-handedly she built the nonprofit organization called the National Capital Crime Assistance Network, or NCCAN.
Claudia started her days as an artist, obtaining a BA in fine arts at Goucher College and a BFA in painting at the Portland school of Art. She is a fine artist and continues to paint and create, and she sells her work periodically at art shows.
This interest in art led her to an early career in teaching where she taught art at a small boarding school in Vermont called the Stowe School. She also took two trips to Nicaragua, one as a volunteer teacher at the art school in Managua and one as a translator for a US/Latin America poetry Festival.
Later, she worked as a full time volunteer for Equal Justice USA but soon saw the need to raise money for other projects she wanted to do. At the same time, she was offered leadership of the death penalty chapter of CURE, an international prisoner and prison family advocacy organization that works primarily on policy change.
The early days of the nonprofit consisted of figuring out how and where to raise money,developing a mission statement, developing a client base and producing the manual for training families to help their loved ones.
This work brought her back to social justice advocacy and she was very active in policy change with regard to Central America.
She became involved with the Innocence Project at the University of Houston, and she developed The Capital Defense Handbook to assist prisoners and their families. She was instrumental in several conferences, and then she became an investigator for death penalty and life cases.
Her accomplishments for justice are many. She has written and collaborated in the publications of many books and articles related to the death penalty, justice, and help for the wrongfully incarcerated.
In 2006, she was instrumental in the exoneration of one of the people she worked with; Jeffrey Deskovic became a free man after 16 years in prison. She also helped several people who were not able to be exonerated to achieve parole. Once people were out, she continued to work with them on finding housing, jobs, and other forms of reintegration into the community. She continues to have a strong interest in returning citizens and re-entry programs that help them when they do return.
When she started her nonprofit, it was a chapter of CURE, or Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errantsthe She started her own chapter and named it NDRAN, or National Death Row Assistance Network. The goal of this network was to help prisoners with their legal and investigative needs. In addition, prisoners need community support and the support of their families and friends, and Ms. Whitman helps facilitate this. She also works with attorneys and Innocence Projects when prisoners are ready to take their cases back to court. The scope of her work is very broad and it keeps her very busy.
In 2014, Ms. Whitman launched her first crowdfunding project. She worked with Indigogo to raise $10,000 for Lacino Hamilton, a prisoner who needed an attorney to take his case to court. You may view the details of the campaign here.
There are more crowdfunding projects coming up in the future, and we hope that you will keep in touch with us and help bring these projects to a successful conclusion.
In 2015, NDRAN changed its name to NCCAN, or National Capital Crime Network.
Her work continues, as it will for the foreseeable future.
Amazon, the giant online shopping network, Has a parrallel network called "Amazon Smile". AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. If all of our supporters would use Amazon Smile, our income from that source would come to hundreds of dollars per year! Please choose "National Death Row Assitance Network of Cure" (our old moniker) as your designated charity for the money to come to us.