National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists

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NASAMS Statement on Current Racial Violence

We will not be silent. NASAMS stands against racism. We see now more than ever that allies need to work toward and promote anti-racism. NASAMS was founded almost 30 years ago to provide support and training to our members. We believed then, as we do now; that the work we do is at the heart of representing our clients. Our mission, core values and work uplift the unheard stories of Black American communities, and we ensure the experiences of those victimized by historic oppression will never be forgotten. Our social workers, lawyers and mitigation specialists all share a common history of advocacy and are duty bound to advance our understanding of the impact factors such as tyranny, systematic oppression and police brutality have on our communities of color.

As mitigation specialists, social workers, investigators, psychologists, psychiatrists and more; we tell the stories every day of Black men, women, children, and families. We knock on their doors and call their phones. We are allowed to spend time in their homes and with their families listening to their experiences and journeys. We learn about the worst days of their lives and their better days as well. We then share their stories with the world. We know better than anyone what they face and what we face in fighting against oppression. NASAMS will not sit idly by while racism is front and center. We will not sit idly by while Black citizens are murdered by those charged with protecting them.

We will speak out against systemic racism, overt racism, and implicit biases that harm the African American community. Black Americans — including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and uncountable others, cannot die in vain on our watch. Their deaths must be consistent reminders that we have a duty to stand up, speak up, and to lift up the voices of our clients and their communities. We want you to stand beside us and pledge to be a part of the solution; not just for the people we serve, but for the people we work with, and the people we live beside in our communities. We will take a stand for racial justice alongside NLADA and work to produce expertise that helps transcend the scourge of racism. The members of NASAMS stand in solidarity with the supporters of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, and communities around the world engaged in the struggle for justice and racial equality. We will continue to lead meaningful discussions, trainings and opportunities to address the issues impacting Black and brown people in America. We will not be silent! We will say their names!

Upcoming Events

June 15th, 2023 - Meet & Greet for NLADA Members

NASAMS will hold its Mitigation Certificate Program in conjunction with the 2023 Holistic Defense Conference. This program will provide participants with training from nationally recognized experts in the field.  In addition, participants will receive sample materials, organizational tools, sample reports and E-tools to assist with their practice. This is an intensive training offered to beginners or professionals who want to innovate their mitigation skills. Participants will also have access to COD and BPDA workshops being held on Thursday morning. (Wednesday at 9am until Friday at noon) 


Who We Are

Founded in 1992, the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates & Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS) is the only national organization devoted to the educational and professional development of sentencing advocates and mitigation specialists. NASAMS publishes professional standards, provides specialized training, and makes referrals to experts in its national network. NASAMS became a practice section of NLADA in 2005.


Mitigation Specialist and Investigator, Office of the Federal Public Defender, Norfolk, VA

[email protected]

Dr. Amy L. Hurd (she/her) is a mitigation specialist and Licensed Master’s Social Worker in Virginia. She holds an AM in clinical social work from the University of Chicago and a Doctor of Social Work degree from the University of Alabama. In 2014, Amy joined the Federal Public Defender Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk), where she works as a mitigation specialist on behalf of clients charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to capital-eligible offenses. Amy values a holistic defense and practices with a positive regard for her clients. Prior to working at the trial level, Amy was a capital mitigation specialist on behalf of clients sentenced to death in Idaho, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Ohio. She has investigated across the United States and internationally in Austria, Canada, and Japan.

Amy has presented to legal, social work, and university audiences on topics such as mitigation practice, mental health and the law, and forensic social work. Her manuscript on the versatility of social workers within public defender offices was recently accepted for publication in Social Work. She is a former Jesuit Volunteer Corps member, occasional social work instructor, and recipient of the 2023 Milestone Achievement Award from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago.


Forensic Social Worker, New York County Defender Service
[email protected]

Lyndsay Lewis earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Science in Social Work from University at Buffalo. With exposure to the forensic social work field starting in Knoxville, Tennessee and subsequently to Buffalo, New York, she has now been practicing in New York City for over 7 years. Currently, Lyndsay is a forensic social worker at New York County Defender Services. She is a member of a citywide and statewide forensic social work coalition and has presented at other public defender offices around the country regarding mentorship. At NYCDS, she acts as the field instructor for all social work interns.



Mitigation Specialist and Investigator, Veral Investigation and Advocacy, LLC

[email protected]

Mary Veral is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent her 15-year career advocating for people impacted by the criminal legal system. Currently she runs a private practice focused on defense-based social work and mitigation investigation for capital, non-capital, and post-conviction cases in both state and federal courts. She also serves as a commissioner for the Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections. 

Previously she worked as an Investigator and Social Worker with the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles, as well as the Jails Project Coordinator at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. She earned her B.A. from the University of Iowa and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. 



Chief Program & Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

[email protected]

A life-long advocate for disenfranchised and marginalized members of our society, Crystal Carpenter has served as an advocate for education and criminal justice reform for over twenty years. Currently, Ms. Carpenter leads national advocacy work in legislative efforts to eliminate juvenile life without parole and other extreme sentences for youth. Ms. Carpenter works alongside directly impacted individuals - formerly incarcerated, their families, and survivors of youth crime - to ensure multi-directional sharing of data, information, and experiences. She also works with corporations, local nonprofits and businesses to ensure that agendas are centered around racial and economic justice. Her proximity to the issue provides a unique perspective as she works to educate and train diverse stakeholders on issues related to the harsh realities faced by incarcerated individuals and families - throughout their incarceration and upon their return to society. 

In addition to her passion for social justice issues, Ms. Carpenter possesses wide-ranging data-backed experience focused on data analytics, project management, business intelligence, survey design, and programming.  She has worked to direct the implementation and management of contract and grant administrative policies and procedures to ensure that projects are in compliance with stakeholder requirements and exceed performance outcomes. She has also worked to develop and implement data collection systems and strategies to optimize statistical efficiency, data quality as well as to maintain or achieve accreditation for over forty programs across six service lines (Behavioral Health, Community Corrections, Veterans Services, Workforce Development, Housing and Homeless Services, Substance Abuse Services, and Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities). 

Ms. Carpenter has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Science (Statistics, Actuarial Science and Operations Research) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her graduate studies focused on Survey Research and Data Analytics.


Contact the NASAMS Executive Committee to learn more about our organization and our profession. If you are searching for a sentencing advocates or mitigation specialist to join your defense team, contact  [email protected] to find the right person to meet the needs of your team.

Our Work

Sentencing advocates explore the histories of criminal defendants to create individualized sentencing plans. Their proposals often focus on substance abuse and mental health treatment, victim restitution, community supervision, avoidance of future misconduct, and appropriate and constructive consequences. This approach allows courts to sentence people to community-based programs that address their needs, while reserving expensive prison and jail space only for those who threaten the safety of the community.

Mitigation specialists speak for the dignity and value of those who have committed even the worst criminal acts. When a criminal defendant faces a death sentence, a mitigation specialist will tell his story to the jury in order to advocate for his life. Mitigation specialists also provide expert insight into criminal culpability, helping courts to understand a defendant’s mental health or developmental disorders.

Benefits of Membership

  • Specialized training. Network and sharpen your skills with top trainers at conferences and on webinars. Members enjoy reduced rates and are eligible for the annual Melissa Kupferberg Scholarship.
  • Members-only listserv. Learn about career opportunities, discuss your work, and seek confidential help for cases.
  • Individual consultation. Talk to experts in the field about cases and careers.
  • Public policy advocacy.  Make your voice heard in our nation’s capital through NLADA.

Click here to become a member, or contact [email protected] with questions.