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Joshua Safran


Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, and nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and the wrongfully imprisoned. His 7-year legal odyssey to free an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence from prison was featured in the award-winning documentary film CRIME AFTER CRIME, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The film won over 25 awards, including the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Safran has also received numerous awards and national media coverage for his pro bono advocacy work.

Safran’s critically-acclaimed memoir, FREE SPIRIT: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid (Hachette), about his childhood on the dark side of the Age of Aquarius, has been called a “beautiful, powerful memoir. . . reminiscent of David Sedaris’s and Augusten Burroughs’s best work: introspective, hilarious, and heartbreaking” (Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW) and "a remarkable account of survival despite the odds" (Kirkus Reviews). Safran was born to a coven of lesbian witches in a Haight-Ashbury commune in 1975. He spent his childhood hitchhiking, and surviving the elements and a violent alcoholic stepfather from El Salvador before finally finding his way to law school.

Safran’s compelling story has been seen around the world on PBS, CBS, FOX, and Authors@Google, and heard on the BBC, NPR, PRX, CBS Radio and Talkline. His essays have appeared in Salon, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post and Utne Reader. A sought‐after speaker, Safran has inspired audiences nationwide at literary and film festivals, universities and law schools, businesses and nonprofits.

Joshua is involved in a number of civic organizations, including local, national and international bar associations. He also regularly serves as a rabbi at various life cycle events, including weddings and funerals. In addition, he pursues a number of creative endeavors including writing and acting.

Joshua served as a law clerk in the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office and was a congressional intern for Representative Jim McDermott of Washington State (7th District). After graduating from Oberlin College, Joshua attended the Jewish Law program at Shalom Rav Rabbinical College in Tsfat, Israel, before going to law school at the University of California Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). While in law school, he was a staff teacher for the largest Jewish high school program in the Bay Area, where he conceived of and wrote a full curriculum.

He lives in Oakland, California.


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