Protecting the right
to health care
promised to every
to every person
the right to
We affirm that every person who is incarcerated, no matter their background, has the right to appropriate medical care. This right is guaranteed by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. As medical professionals, we see it as our responsibility to protect this right.
We believe that people in prisons, jails, and detention centers deserve to be treated with dignity. We center our work, our language, and our actions in upholding the humanity and dignity of the people we serve.
We hold inclusion at the core of our work. We welcome opportunities to serve all incarcerated people, and invite volunteer clinicians of all backgrounds, identities, abilities, and beliefs to join us in our efforts.
What we do
We train volunteer clinicians to provide expert witness services in cases involving incarcerated people. This removes the often prohibitive cost barrier to this critical service. MJA is the first national group of medical experts who work to protect the rights of people in jails, prisons, and detention centers.
We advocate for policy changes needed to ensure that incarcerated people receive their right to medical care. We do so in partnership with legal experts and advocacy groups at the local, state, and federal level.
We educate key stakeholders regarding the medical impacts of incarceration to ensure that the medical needs of incarcerated people are met. These groups include attorneys, policy makers, parole boards, correctional staff, incarcerated people, and the general public.
How it works
Attorneys identify client health concerns and reach out to MJA
Medical record review
MJA pairs attorney with a physician expert witness who evaluates the records
Physician conducts a phone interview to clarify any questions with the client
Physician writes up their findings with a focus on medical concerns
Who we are
Dr. Mark Fenig
Mark Fenig, MD, MPH, practices and teaches emergency medicine in the Bronx, New York. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and is a 2022 Galaxy Gives Leader Fellow. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark learned of legal cases to protect people in prison from dangerous conditions. These cases required expert medical witness testimony, and when physicians volunteered to testify, the Medical Justice Alliance was born.
DR. WILLIAM WEBER
William Weber, MD, MPH, is an emergency physician at the University of Chicago. He completed a fellowship in global emergency medicine where he focused on the rights of those in carceral settings. He has consulted for the World Health Organization and serves as a subcommittee chair for the Public Health Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Rabbi Daniel Smokler, PhD, is the Chief Innovation Officer at OOI. He graduated from Yale University with a BA in the History of Art. Dan went on to found Organizational Solutions, a labor consulting firm that helped reorganize the Writer’s Guild of America. He also completed a PhD in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU. Dan’s abiding interest in social justice has continued to grow and he joined the MJA board of directors as its founding chair.
DEBORAH J. WHITE
Deborah White, MD, MBA, is the vice chair and director of the department of emergency medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. The Bronx influenced her decision to become a physician and her leadership in the borough during New York City’s COVID-19 surge was featured in Nicholas Kristof’s Heartache in the Hot Zone: The Front Line Against Covid-19. Dr. White has an abiding interest in advancing social medicine through educational initiatives among students and medical residents.
Becky Silber, JD, is the Director of Criminal Justice at the philanthropy Arnold Ventures where she leads AV’s work in two strategic areas: prosecution and public defense. She previously worked at the Vera Institute for Justice on a variety of issues including state level sentencing reform, pretrial reform, and compassionate release. Becky began her career as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Scott Pearlman, MD, is an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice-Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. He also serves as the Director of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore’s Wakefield Campus. Dr. Pearlman received double board certification in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine.
Joshua Safran, JD, is an author, attorney, and nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and the wrongfully imprisoned. His seven year legal odyssey to free an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence from prison was featured in the documentary film Crime After Crime. His essays have appeared in Salon, The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post and his compelling story featured on BBC, PBS, CBS, NPR, PRX and Authors@Google. Joshua has received numerous awards and national media coverage for his pro bono criminal justice advocacy work.
Stefen R. Short
Stefen R. Short, JD, is the supervising attorney for the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, a litigation unit that challenges constitutional violations and unlawful conditions in jails and prisons in New York. Stefen litigates on behalf of incarcerated people with disabilities, mental health needs, and unmet educational needs. Previously, he was a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights New York, New York’s Protection and Advocacy System.
Shamma pepper fox
Shamma Pepper Fox studies Politics at Princeton University and helps to support the development and maintenance of MJA’s central workflow and database. On campus, he serves as a peer advisor for Princeton’s Sexual Harassment / Assault Resources and Education (SHARE) program and as an Assistant Researcher for the Geniza Project. He is eager to pursue his interest in constitutional law and public policy through a career in law.