Tags: shon hopwood | bank | robber | law | professor

Shon Hopwood: Bank Robber to Law Professor

(CBS '60 Minutes')

By    |   Friday, 13 October 2017 09:21 AM

Shon Hopwood's story about going from bank robber to law professor at a prestigious institution will be featured on "60 Minutes" Sunday, detailing his unlikely rise with the help of some prominent individuals who saw his talent while behind bars, CBS News reported.

Hopwood was a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, Illinois, when a case he prepared for a fellow inmate was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The contact he made during that time, prominent lawyer Seth Waxman, was impressed enough to take Hopwood on has a mentee, CBS News said.

"I wanted him to be involved because I was really curious," Waxman said of the Supreme Court case. "It seemed actually almost inconceivable that somebody with his level of education and his level of exposure to the life of the law could actually write a much better than average cert petition."

Hopwood told "60 Minutes" that people like Waxman made his longshot hope of becoming an attorney himself a reality.

"It was people that helped, that went out of their way to provide grace to me," Hopwood said on the newsmagazine. "That made the difference."

Hopwood, who spent 11 years in prison after robbing banks in Nebraska, is now a tenure-track faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center, The Washington Post wrote in April.

Hopwood told the newspaper that his time in prison gave him an understanding on the impact of sentencing and growth of incarceration in the United States.

"It's one of the big social-justice issues of our time," Hopwood told The Washington Post then. "Between prison, jail, home confinement, probation, parole, combined it's about 10 million people. It's a big number.

"(My) story's still writing itself. I feel like I'm living someone else’s life quite often these days," he continued.

Hopwood told the Post that he lost a college athletic scholarship when he stopped going to class and ended up by 23 robbing five banks. Working at the prison law library got him interested in the sentencing of his case and others – and a discovery that he actually enjoyed it, he told the newspaper.

The third brief he ever wrote ended up being argued in front of the Supreme Court, without the benefit of law school, the newspaper said. He wrote the brief for a friend whose appeal had been denied, but he realized he could frame an argument using the Sixth Amendment rather than the Fifth, something that was missed by others, the Post noted.

Despite his help from Waxman after being released from prison in 2008, a story in The New York Times, and offers of a book deal, Hopwood said law schools were afraid to accept him until the University of Washington gave him a full scholarship, the newspaper said. He passed the bar exam in 2015 in Washington, D.C. where he worked before joining Georgetown's faculty, the Post wrote.

"He understands the problems of incarceration in a way that somebody who just studies them as an academic is not able to get," William Treanor, the law school's dean, told the Post.

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Shon Hopwood's story about going from bank robber to law professor at a prestigious institution will be featured on "60 Minutes" Sunday, detailing his unlikely rise with the help of some prominent individuals who saw his talent while behind bars, CBS News reported.
shon hopwood, bank, robber, law, professor
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2017-21-13
Friday, 13 October 2017 09:21 AM
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