House Engrossed


Sue Ellen Allen; death resolution





State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-fifth Legislature

First Regular Session











On the death of sue ellen allen.





Sue Ellen Allen, a prominent leader in criminal justice reform and community reentry, passed away on February 24, 2021 at the age of seventy-five.

Born on July 6, 1945 in Port Arthur, Texas, Sue Ellen Allen grew up in Europe, the United States and South America. She graduated from the University of Texas and was a business owner and community leader and a former Arizona state prison inmate.

Sue Ellen went to prison in Arizona at fifty-seven years of age.  Her experience being incarcerated and losing her young cellmate, Gina, changed the course of her life in a profound way and left a legacy of criminal justice reform advocacy in her wake. During her nearly seven years in prison, she organized a cancer walk, designed a curriculum to teach life skills, survived advanced breast cancer and found her purpose.  After her release from the Perryville prison, Sue Ellen authored a book about her incarceration experience and cofounded the nonprofit group GINA's Team, to provide inmates with tools for reentry after leaving prison.

In 2016, Sue Ellen went on to found the nonprofit organization Reinventing Reentry, whose mission is to educate and reshape society's perception of former inmates so that they may successfully reintegrate into society and be given a fair chance for employment, housing, education and entrepreneurial opportunities.  The organization's signature program was the ReEntry Simulation, which took Sue Ellen all around the country to universities, corporations and statehouses to help build empathy in a bipartisan manner for the barriers and struggles that formerly incarcerated people face on their release from prison.

Sue Ellen was a regular face at the Arizona Legislature in 2018 as she stood alongside Representative Athena Salman and others to bring awareness to the lack of dignity that women in prisons face.  She was also the Arizona organizer for the National Day of Empathy, which aims to build empathy in policymakers and to highlight the urgency of criminal justice reform.

Sue Ellen Allen was a White House guest on more than one occasion, even joining First Lady Michelle Obama in her box at the State of the Union address in 2016. Later that year, she was a guest speaker on criminal justice at a White House-sponsored summit, and she was invited to the White House again in 2019 to celebrate the signing of prison reform legislation known as the First Step Act. Quickly shape-shifting during the COVID-19 restrictions, Sue Ellen created a "Zoominar," called The Skinny on Crime, Punishment & Prisons, to continue her work with passion, grace and humor.

Sue Ellen is remembered for her Southern lady charm, impeccable manners and infectious laugh.  She is preceded in death by her parents, Ruth Jene and Ardis Hyleman Allen, and her husband, David Grammer. A humble and devoted friend, Sue Ellen Allen was adamant that her life be celebrated with laughter, beauty and service to others. She is deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.


Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona:

That the Members of the House of Representatives express their sympathies to the many friends and loved ones of Sue Ellen Allen.