Last Prisoner Project looks to the power of the pen to free those incarcerated for cannabis

An emotional short film stars Richeda Ashmeade, who was 12 when her father Richardo was sentenced to 22 years

Published On
Apr 19, 2023
Richeda Ashmeade crying in the new Last Prisoner Project PSA

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The pen is a powerful animating force—capable of persuading a single person, or freeing thousands—in a new campaign from Last Prisoner Project, the nonprofit working to free those serving time for non-violent, cannabis-related crimes.

A new short-form docu-style spot, “The Pen to Right History,” shows Richeda Ashmeade using a pen to write a letter to President Biden about her father Richardo, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison on cannabis charges when Richeda was just 12. And Biden, of course, can free prisoners with his own signature by signing clemency orders.

The emotional piece was created by McCann New York.


Through its website, digital and social media, “The Pen to Right History” campaign invites those who have been similarly impacted by cannabis incarceration to share their stories and ask government officials to pardon non-violent cannabis convicts.

"Growing up in this country with a parent in prison makes it hard to grow up,” wrote Richeda Ashemeade. “But despite that, I did. I’m in law school. I’m an accomplished poet. I’m an advocate. Who I am today defies what statistics say I should be. But what does it mean when a child growing up to be educated, ambitious and empathetic is an act of defiance?”

While recreational and medicinal cannabis is becoming legalized throughout the U.S., tens of thousands of Americans remain incarcerated for convictions like Richardo’s. People of color are four times more likely to be imprisoned for these offenses.

“The vast majority of Americans support this initiative, and even as many states recognize the immorality of these sentences and de-criminalize cannabis possession, tens of thousands remain in prison,” said Sarah Gersten, executive director and general counsel at Last Prisoner Project. “Freeing them is not only a moral good that provides those unfairly incarcerated with a second chance and addresses the systemic racism that underpins many of these convictions, but it’s a practical win as well … it would reduce overcrowding in prisons and save taxpayer money.” 

In October, Biden pardoned federal cannabis convictions, but many remain in prison on state convictions.


Apr 19, 2023
Client :
Last Prisoner Project
Agency :
McCann New York
Executive Director & General Counsel :
Sarah Gersten
Managing Director :
Mary Bailey
Chief Operating Officer :
Natalie Papillion
Partnerships Manager :
Stephanie Shepard
Sr. Communications Associate :
Stephen Post
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Shayne Millington
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Pierre Lipton
EVP Global Executive Creative Director :
Cristina Reina
EVP Global Executive Creative Director :
Pete Johnson
SVP Group Creative Director :
Brad Soulas
SVP Group Creative Director :
Kristine Salm
Associate Creative Director :
Camilla Ciappina
Associate Creative Director :
Dan Trimarchi
Design Director :
Mook Phoungbut
Designer :
Chocho Han
Managing Director :
Kevin Nelson
SVP Executive Account Director :
Socrates Papazoglou
Account Supervisor :
Rob Parkin
SVP Director of Creative Excellence and Operations :
Stella Warkman
Sr. Project Manager :
Lexi Vogler
Associate Project Manager :
Sidney Hur
VP Strategy Director :
Amadeo Plaza
SVP Executive Comms Strategy Director :
Dominic Poynter
Social Strategy Director :
Liz Larkin
EVP Chief Production Officer :
Aaron Kovan
Sr. Producer :
MJ Soler
Integrated Producer :
Katie Henry
Jr. Producer :
Erin Michelitsch
Senior Music Producer :
Colleen Dahlstrom
EVP Head of Celebrity & Creator Partnerships :
Kimberly Kress
Vice President Celebrity Partnerships :
Tom Wentworth
Business Manager :
Anna Owens
Director of Music BA Licensing :
Jamie Jou
Production Company :
SVP Head of Content :
Adam Hirsch
Executive Producer :
Zoe Greene
Line Producer :
Ron Emile
Director :
Ritesh Gupta
Web Designer :
Gaetan Pautler
Web Developer :
Alex Tourgis
Web Developer :
Mael Ruffini
Director of Photography :
Lara Agel
1st AC :
Draven Kleer
Camera PA :
Vaughn Berglund
Gaffer/Grip :
Carlos Valdes-Lora
Production Designer :
Zoe Taylor
Audio Mixer :
Marque DeWinter
PA :
Ashley Gadson
PA :
Jameel Karim
Post Production :
Editor :
Ryan Bukowski
Assistant Editor :
Riley Donigan
Jr Producer :
Natalie McQuaid
Finishing Producer :
Mark Reyes
Flame Assistant :
Daniel Gilkes
Finishing Assistant :
Jimmy Baltiero
Finishing Assistant :
Nicholas Tavolacci
Director of Post Production :
Laura Molinaro
Resolve Artist :
Chadwick Shoults
Sr. Flame Artist :
Ed Skupeen
AFX Artist :
David Gerber
Music :
Revolve Audio
Senior Audio Engineer :
Paul Weiss
Producer :
Kelly Ondris
Color :
Company 3
Head of Commercial Color :
Tim Masick
Advertising Sales Color :
Kevin Breheny
Producer Short Form :
Ryan Moncrief
Assistant Colorist :
Stephen Winterhalter
Assistant Colorist :
Quinn Wright
VP Executive Producer :
Jeff Fiorello
Joel Simon
Business Manager :
Chris Gibson

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