People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws was founded in 2015 by and for people who have experienced sexual violence, many whose rape cases were not properly investigated by law enforcement. PERL hosts Memphis’ only peer support group for sexual violence and advocates for criminal justice reform.

 

Meaghan Ybos

Meaghan is the co-founder and Executive Director of PERL. In 2003 at the age of sixteen, Meaghan was raped in Memphis.  She reported her rape to law enforcement and submitted to a forensic exam, but law enforcement did not investigate the case or test her rape kit until over nine years later. Meaghan strategically used her mishandled rape case to raise awareness about needed policy changes. In the course of this work, Meaghan further exposed over 12,000 untested rape kits in MPD storage. She wrote and lobbied for a bill to remove the statute of limitations for rape in TN.The bill passed unanimously in 2014 thanks largely to public outcry sparked by Meaghan’s advocacy. In 2013 and 2014, over the Memphis mayor’s objections, Meaghan successfully persuaded the Memphis City Council to allocate over $3 million of its own tax revenue to cover the costs of investigating thousands of previously ignored rape cases connected to untested rape kits. In 2015, Meaghan and a group of lawyers and community organizers formed PERL which advocates for criminal justice reform and provides the community’s only peer support for people who have experienced sexual violence. She is also a contributing writer at In Justice Today, part of the Harvard University School of Law’s Fair Punishment Project. Meaghan holds a BA in English from Rhodes College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi.

Heather Marlowe

Heather is the co-founder of PERL. After becoming the victim of a drug-facilitated rape in 2010, Heather reported the assault to the San Francisco Police Department. Under the impression that her case would be investigated, she submitted her body to a forensic examination. Instead, SFPD put Heather in charge of her own investigation and did not test her rape kit. Desperate for answers, Marlowe used her skill set as an actor and playwright to create a one-person play, The Haze, about the police mishandling of her rape case. She also used public relations tactics to draw local media to the performance of her play. Coincidentally, Jim O’Donnell, an investigative producer who had just investigated untested rape kits in Memphis, had moved to San Francisco and attended Heather’s play. Working with O’Donnell and investigative journalist Dan Noyes, Heather strategically promoted her mishandled case in the news media to demand accountability for other ignored and neglected rape cases in San Francisco. Heather is credited with exposing several thousand neglected rape cases at SFPD including her own. She performs and lectures about rape investigations, victim advocacy, and police accountability at colleges nationwide. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of California Los Angeles.

Board of Directors

Ashley Caldwell

A native Memphian, Ashley is the Operations and Training Director for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. While studying Political Science at the University of Memphis, Ashley interned with MSPJC working on the Memphis United campaign to reinstate and restructure the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board. Shortly after, she went on to study in Paris, France. While abroad she received a certification in Career Development, completed an externship with an international attorney at the Commission Nationale Consultative Des Droites De L’Hommes (a humanitarian organization created by the United Nations). When she returned to the United States, Ashley resumed her internship with MSPJC, working on the final stages of the campaign to amend the ordinance for a Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board. Ashley holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in French.

Paul Garner

Paul is an Organizing Coordinator for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.  In 2011, Paul helped develop a street-art project called, Face Homelessness, to help raise awareness and support for the Ten-Year to End Homelessness. He helped co-found the Homeless Caucus, making sure those without homes had an equal voice in conversations around solutions to issues that impact them and ensuring that homelessness was not just a ‘backseat’ issue. The Caucus joined forces with MSPJC, and eventually became the core membership of Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (HOPE).  Paul also worked with the Transportation Task Force, organizing and facilitating town hall meetings that lead to the founding of the Memphis Bus Riders Union. In 2012, Garner began working full-time with H.O.P.E. through the Americorps VISTA program. Paul now coordinates the Center’s work around Criminal Justice Reform through Memphis United.  Paul holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Memphis College of Art.

Zac Hill

Zac is the Chief Innovation Officer and former Chief Operating Officer of The Future Project.  Previously he was a lead game designer of the card game Magic: The Gathering, where he also served as a color commentator for the Magic Pro Tour.  A 2008-2009 Henry Luce Scholar in Kuala Lumpur, MY, Zac has been a guest on NPR’s Planet Money and has lectured at MIT, the Lawrenceville School, Richard Hugo House, and the University of Washington.  He lives and works in Manhattan.

Sally Joyner

Sally is an immigration lawyer and co-founder of Mid-South Immigration Advocates, a nonprofit immigration law firm that provides free and low cost legal representation to foreign-born Mid-Southerners. Sally concentrates her practice in three areas: (1) deportation defense for children; (2) immigration benefits for victims of domestic and sexual violence; and (3) asylum claims for Central American women escaping gender-based persecution. Sally earned her B.A. summa cum laude and J.D. cum laude from the University of Memphis, and an M.B.A. from Christian Brothers University.

Brad Watkins

Brad is the Executive Director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.  A native Memphian, Brad has been active in the community throughout his life.  He was a long-time volunteer with MSPJC when he worked on the Memphis Living Wage Campaign, the Coalition Against Private Prisons.  Watkins is now convinced that true positive social change can only come from the community itself and that the progressive movement must be committed to the task of organizing with those who are directly affected by injustice. In 2008 Watkins was accepted into the D.C.-based Center for Community Change’s GenChange program as a fellow and oversaw CCC and MSPJC GOTV efforts in four low-income, low voter turnout communities of color in the 2008 local elections. Watkins joined the staff of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in December of 2008 and since then has overseen the Center’s programs and campaign efforts on homelessness, blight, foreclosure, the Neighborhood Alliance, criminal justice reform and electoral organizing.

Betsy Weintraub

Betsy is an Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  She specializes in prosecuting sex crimes.  Previously she worked for criminal court judges in Memphis, the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office as an Assistant District Attorney, and went into private practice for three years before moving to Micronesia.