Deborah Smith Arthur - Profile

Deborah Smith Arthur, M.A., J.D. worked as a criminal defense and juvenile law attorney for ten years. She has taught at Portland State University for 18 years, where she is an Associate Professor in the University Studies interdisciplinary general education program. In 2019 she received the Campus Compact Western Region Engaged Scholar Award for her extensive work to bring college education and support to incarcerated individuals. She was a member of the 2018-19 cohort of Child Defender Fellows selected by the Children’s Defense Fund. As an advocate for under-served and justice-involved people for over 25 years, she has partnered successfully for over a decade with organizations including The Beat Within and the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice. She teaches courses at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn and at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. She has worked on numerous successful clemency petitions, is a long-time volunteer with the Oregon Youth Authority, and serves on a statewide task force charged by the Oregon legislature to study and recommend state and local governmental actions addressing prison education. She organized and is an active member of the Oregon Coalition of Higher Education in Prison. Deb is a co-founder and directs PSU’s Higher Education in Prison Program. She holds a master’s degree in Black Studies from The Ohio State University and earned her J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

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