In Sept. 21, 1994, Duquesne University junior Casey Mullen scaled the stairs to the school's law school library. The 19-year-old [man's] backpack held nine 1-ounce plastic bags filled with powdered cocaine — a delivery he was making to a woman he barely knew, part of his daily effort to sell enough narcotics to feed his own addiction. She was an undercover narcotics detective. It was his first and only arrest. [Less] than 18 months later, Allegheny County Judge Raymond Novak slammed Mullen with a mandatory minimum sentence: three to 10 years at the former State Correctional Institution Waynesburg. Mullen did his minimum three years and then embarked on a very different quest back up the 17 steps of the law school library.But there's more! Mullen, now 41 years old, then went on to become a "stellar student and, later, an increasingly prominent criminal defense attorney." Now, he is making his past public because:
1) Criminals, especially those who are struggling with addiction, must see that it's possible to become a respected professional; 2) society must see the need to start taking more chances to reintegrate convicted felons; 3) policymakers should rethink what a prison can be — less punishment, more rehabilitation, job training and programs designed to ensure that every inmate leaves jail with “the belief that they can move beyond this” and contribute again to society.Mullen says the "two scariest days" of his life were when he went in jail, and when he left. He lived in a so-called half-way house for 10 months, worked at a confectioner and counselled high school students. While still under parole, he worked as a millwright and the university readmitted him to major in sociology. But applying to law schools was a different matter. Although his sentencing judge supported his application, law school admissions boards were more than a little hesitant. At Duquesne Law, Mullen "starred on the school's nationally renowned Trial Competition Team" and ws "named the top student by the faculty."
In 2008, Mullen appeared before the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, on behalf of himself! There followed a unanimous vote to recommend to clemency. Gov. Ed Rendell granted the pardon in 2009, so Mullen could take the bar exam in 2011. Read more about this amazing story and Mullen's effort to help those where were formerly incarcerated here.