While in Federal Prison, Topeka K. Sam witnessed firsthand the epidemic and disparity of incarceration on women, most specifically women of color. She felt the urgency to bring the faces and voices of women in prison to the public in order to bring awareness to women’s incarceration and post-incarceration issues in order to change the criminal legal system.

After her release in 2015 and in response to what she saw and learned in prison, Topeka created Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) an organization whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women transition back into society through education, entrepreneurship, spiritual empowerment, and advocacy. Hope House is safe housing space for formerly incarcerated women, located in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx. With Vanee Sykes, Topeka developed the vision for Hope House while they were incarcerated.

Topeka Sam is a 2017 Soros Justice Fellowship recipient. Her fellowship, The Parole, Probation Accountability Project focuses on the broken and arbitrary probation and parole systems. Her op-ed, It’s Time to Overhaul America’s Broken Probation and Parole Systems, was published widely. Sam is a 2015 Beyond the Bars Fellow and a 2016 Justice in Education Scholar at Columbia University.