photo of Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez

Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez

Program Dir
The Frederick Douglass Project for Justice


Advocate for justice
Champion for communities impacted by incarceration and the re-entry population
Consultant on wrongful conviction cases, program development, public speaking, and nonprofit management

“Have a vision. Be demanding.” — Colin Powell

These simple, yet profound words summarize Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez’s life and professional philosophy of demanding nothing short of true justice. With more than 23 years of lived experience, incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, Mr. Velazquez has worked tirelessly to redefine the humanity of people who are or have been incarcerated. Mr. Velazquez has seized every opportunity to learn, lead, support, and give, which earned him an early release in 2021 via executive clemency—a rare and honorable accomplishment that attests to the moral fiber of his character.

True to the terms of his clemency, he now helps programs that work with justice systems by bridging communications with departments of corrections, community partners, and incarcerated populations to achieve ambitious mutual goals in criminal justice policy and reform.

While incarcerated, Mr. Velazquez became the voice of the incarcerated population at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He established a unique rapport of trust with the prison’s administration and implemented programs to improve his life and the lives of those around him.

Mr. Velazquez’s passion is to help others who have been wrongfully convicted. As an independent consultant and certified paralegal, he has helped several innocent men obtain exonerations. His legendary partnership with Dateline NBC producer Dan Slepian, stemming from the production of “Conviction”, was one of the factors that led to massive public support for his petition for executive clemency.

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

Events featuring Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez
Events featuring Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez