David Lee Windecher, trailblazing orator, author and lawyer, was the featured speaker at the Rotary Club of Dunwoody’s weekly meeting.
Windecher told of his life as an impoverished immigrant on the streets of Miami-Dade County, Fla., and of the events that eventually led him to his success. He said he began his path to self-rehabilitation when he earned his GED in March 1998 after the John Marshall School of Law accepted him. He had been turned down by 48 other law schools, most likely based on his arrest record in 11 open gang-related cases.
Based on his experience on the streets, he has developed a curriculum for juveniles who have run afoul of the law and need re-direction. The concept has attracted the attention and support of the Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur Blank Foundation, and DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston and Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson.
After having been arrested 13 times and spending more than seven months incarcerated as a juvenile, Windecher dropped out of school and joined a gang for protection. The brutal climate of the streets, issued by both criminals and the police, did not deter his dream of becoming a lawyer who would fight for those who lack resources for justice, he said. His autobiography, “The AmerIcan Dream/HisStory in the Making,” recounts his efforts to end mass incarceration and redress racial inequity in the criminal justice system.
Known on the streets as RED, he has named his program “Rehabilitation Enables Dreams.” His central theme emphasizes that if we arrest people over and over, we are not doing our job, as evidenced by Georgia’s recidivism rate is 68 percent.