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After the Pitch, a Remarkable Idea Earns a $25,000 Boost

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Erica Marshall has spent most of her professional life exposing the inequities of the criminal justice system. But last week she put some teeth behind her assertions as she unveiled a business concept that could help scores of defense attorneys and their clients – in Delaware and beyond.

The Wilmington attorney was the big winner at the Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Competition last week, where she introduced her new business, Defendant Data Solutions, LLC. The company aims to reduce disparities in federal sentencing — one case at a time — by providing expert reports containing data and analysis to defense attorneys as an advocacy tool at sentencing.

The concept of fighting for fairness for those less fortunate resonated with just about everyone who attended the popular Great Dames event.  

Marshall scored a $25,000 package that included funding, business services, mentorship and feedback. Her expert reports are designed to flag the discrepancies at play in each case and highlight for the judge the sentence that was received by other defendants nationwide who had the same criminal history and committed a similar crime.

Great Dames CEO Sharon Hake remarked that Marshall is essentially leveling the playing field. “Imagine how impactful her work will be in the criminal justice system. She is fighting for equity, sometimes against seemingly impossible odds, and we are privileged to support her cause,” she said.

Del. Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long announced Marshall’s win on November 5th at Harry’s Savoy Grill & Ballroom. The competition featured six finalists – all female entrepreneurs – who pitched breakthrough ideas in health and wellness, safety and security, education and youth.

Marshall formed Defendant Data Solutions after completing a fellowship at the Office of the Federal Public Defender, where she learned about the disparities in federal criminal case outcomes due to race, gender, location or other similar factors.

She advocated for years for a fairer criminal justice system both professionally and in her community. And she joined the ACLU of Delaware in 2018 as the Campaign for Smart Justice manager. 

Marshall also worked as a litigation attorney with a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., advocating for federal criminal justice reform and government accountability and served on the board of a local diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders.

The five runners-up will receive mentoring and full memberships to Great Dames.

  • Angelica Jackson, founder of Journey Beyond
  • Suzanne Jackson, founder of Foster the Arts
  • Catherine Lindroth, co-founder of Social Contract
  • Thianda Manzara, founder of Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids
  • Kimberly McGlonn, rounder of Grant Blvd
  • Meghan Wallace, co-founder of Social Contract
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COVID-19 stats continue decline as vaccinations rise

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With the help of his father, “cool and collected’ Bear resident Sam Witman extinguishes the fire.

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