Criminal Law and Justice

Turning Pain Into Purpose

May 12, 2022  • Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

LaTonya A. Tate didn’t intentionally start on a career path to put herself on the Birmingham, Alabama, City Council, to be the Chair of its Public Safety Committee, but she has found herself where she needs to be right now. Her journey started as a nurse, then, in a turn, as a parole officer, then to founding the Alabama Justice Initiative and running for and winning a seat on the Birmingham City Council. All along the way, her family and her community have been close to her heart, and their struggles have built her into a force for change across Alabama, including stopping, for now, a new prison. Please join us as we talk with Councilor Tate about her remarkable path, and how she wields power – and hope – to make change possible.

Podcast Transcript

Guest Biography

photo of Councilor LaTanya A. TateCouncilor LaTonya A. Tate grew up in North Birmingham, where she currently resides. Tate was educated in the Birmingham Public School System. She graduated from the Bevill State Community College LPN program and from the University of Phoenix, where she obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice Administration/Security. She also holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Grand Canyon University.

Tate worked in healthcare industries for over 15 years in Jefferson County. She also served as a probation and parole officer for nearly a decade with the Florida Department of Corrections, before retiring in 2014. In 2018, Tate founded the Alabama Justice Initiative, a nonprofit social justice organization that works on criminal justice reform and policy initiatives. In 2021, she ran for and won election to Birmingham City Council position 9, defeating the incumbent.

Tate is an active member of many social justice organizations, including Alabamians For Fair Justice and Alabama Forward. In 2020, she graduated from Emerge Alabama, an organization that trains progressive democrat women to run for office. She is also a graduate of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and is a Soros Justice Fellow.

About Shades of Freedom

Shades of Freedom, from The Aspen Institute Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is a new podcast amplifying and uplifting promising efforts aimed at reducing mass incarceration, and looking at the ecosystem of related inequalities that surrounds and perpetuates incarceration.

The podcast can be found on all the major platforms, including Apple, Google, and Spotify. You can also listen from the series home page or listen to the current episode at the top of this page.

The Shades of Freedom podcast, hosted by Dr. Douglas E. Wood, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is named after and inspired by the book Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process, by Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.