Christopher Poulos

Travels from Washington

Chris shares a powerful story of perseverance that traces his journey from federal prison to the White House. 

General Topics






Christopher Poulos is an attorney and the Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council. Prior to his appointment, he served as Executive Director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice.  During law school, he served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. Poulos has advised United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and served on several task forces related to criminal justice policy. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law, where he was President of the American Constitution Society and represented children facing criminal charges as a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic. 

Poulos is an emerging national leader in criminal justice policy and addiction recovery. He has spoken to diverse organizations across the United States – including federal prisons, large nonprofits, universities, and addiction recovery organizations. He also provides consulting on addiction recovery and criminal justice policy.

Prior to law school, Poulos overcame many obstacles, including tragic family losses, addiction, homelessness, and a federal incarceration. He now dedicates his life to helping others overcome or avoid similar challenges and he supports a public health-­based approach to addiction. His work promotes equal access to the law and seeks to end mass incarceration and the collateral consequences now facing the tens of millions of people with criminal convictions.

Poulos has been featured in The Washington Post, and was named among "Maine's Most Intriguing People” in Portland Magazine's annual publication as well as selected as a “Law Student of the Year” by National Jurist Magazine. 

Speaking Topics

Intersection between Addiction and Criminal Justice System

Mr. Poulos shares his professional and personal experience regarding the connection between untreated addiction and substance use and criminal justice system involvement. He shares proven methods to promote the treatment of substance use issues and disorders as a health issue rather than a moral failing that must be addressed through criminal consequences.

Collateral Consequences                  

Having a history of addiction, arrests, or convictions can haunt people well after successful treatment is completed and any penalties imposed by a court are undertaken. Mr. Poulos shares his personal and professional experience with these matters, including methods individuals can employ to overcome these barriers and policies that should be advocated and implemented that mitigate these risks.  

Power of Perseverance

Mr. Poulos shares his personal journey from addiction and federal incarceration to college, law school, and working with the nation's leaders at all levels of government.  Mr. Poulos insists he is in no way unique, and shares techniques, will and strength that he utilized to make his current life a reality.

Never believe anyone who tells you that you can’t go somewhere because of where you’ve been.
— Chris Poulos