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Race and the Criminal Justice System
After the Civil War Southern states embraced criminal justice as a means to reimpose racial control over African Americans. This included the passing of “Black Codes” and later Jim Crow laws. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It is this loophole in the 13th Amendment that Southern states exploited in passing “Black Codes” and in setting up new economic and labor systems that relied on the arrest and imprisonment of African Americans. For example, these codes implemented vagrancy laws that criminalized unemployment, resulting in African Americans returning to slave-like environments through forced labor and convict leasing. Violation of the black codes also resulted in offenders having to pay fines; those who were unable to were forced by the state into labor until they worked off their balances.
Why is this important? Because the same criminal justice system that was developed after the Civil War to reimpose control over African Americans exists today. Imprisonment has been and continues to be used as a weapon to control communities of color in ways that aren’t used in other communities. We see this in the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, the over policing of black communities, the excessive criminal fines and fees imposed on defendants, and a bail system that relies on payment to secure one’s freedom.
- Black men comprise about 13% of the general population, but about 35% of those incarcerated.
- Black women comprise 44% of incarcerated women, but only make up about 13% of the female U.S. population.
As stated in the Vera Institute’s 2018 report, An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System:
“racial disparities in the criminal justice system are no accident, but rather are rooted in a history of oppression and discriminatory decision making that have deliberately targeted black people and helped create an inaccurate picture of crime that deceptively links them with criminality.”
"Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread, and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal."
- Shirley Chisholm
According to the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, implicit bias "refers to the attitutes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involunarily and without an individual's awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection. The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitues about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages, in addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming." Everyone possess implicit biases. Why is this important? If everyone possess implicit biases, then these biases exist within police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, correction officers, probation officers, etc.
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In recent years several states have adopted racial impact statements, tools used to determine whether pending criminal justice legislation will increase racial and ethnic inequities. States that require racial impact statements include Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, New Jersey, and Florida. In 2008, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission voluntarily elected to prepare racial impact statements on proposed crime bills pending before the legislature. In 2019, seven states introduced legislation to require racial impact statements – Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, and Vermont.
Another way that legislatures have worked to address racial disparities is by passing legislation to require various actors in the criminal legal system to collect and report demographic data, including data on race and ethnicity, in conjunction with data related to arrests, plea negotiations, dispositions, restitution ordered, and other aspects of the criminal legal system. Some recently passed provisions, such as Colorado’s SB 217 and New York’s A 10609, focus on data related to law enforcement and police contacts, such as use of force, arrest-related injury and death, and unannounced entry into a residence. Vermont passed S 219 this year, requiring that the Secretary of Administration only approve grants from law enforcement agencies that have complied with race data reporting requirements. Connecticut SB 880 and Utah HB 288 mandate demographic data collection and reporting from prosecutorial agencies, courts, and corrections. Colorado HB 1297 requires all jails to report quarterly data on their population, including their pretrial population, with a focus on collecting data on race, ethnicity, and homelessness.
In July 2019, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884/S. 2227). In addition to removing cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act and creating a process for expungement and resentencing of prior convictions, it seeks to address the harm caused by the War on Drugs on communities of color. The legislation prohibits immigration penalties based on marijuana. It would also create a Cannabis Opportunity Trust Fund that will establish (1) the Community Reinvestment Grant Program to fund community organizations providing services in communities most harmed by the War on Drugs; (2) the Cannabis Opportunity Program to fund Small Business Administration loans to support socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own marijuana businesses; and (3) the Equitable Licensing Grant Program to provide jurisdictions with funds to develop and implement equitable marijuana licensing programs targeting individuals most adversely impacted by war on drugs.
There’s also a host of federal legislation pending that would address the collateral consequences of a conviction, which would aid in addressing the harm caused by the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on communities of color.
Visit NACDL’s Legislative Action Center for more information on how you can engage your elected officials and to stay abreast on federal legislation addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
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Search, Seizure & Criminal Litigation (2018)
Many people think the Fourth Amendment is dead. One thing is for sure, it’s certainly not your parents’ Fourth Amendment anymore.
Racial Profiling & the 4th Amendment (2017) – Featuring Juval O. Scott - Video DVD
Many people think the Fourth Amendment is dead. One thing is for sure, it’s certainly not your parents’ Fourth Amendment anymore.
Suppress It! Litigating 4th Amendment Rights (2016)
Many people think the Fourth Amendment is dead. One thing is for sure, it’s certainly not your parents’ Fourth Amendment anymore.
Pattern Cross-Examination of Expert Witnesses: A Trial Strategy & Resource Guide
In a criminal trial, cross-examination of the prosecution’s forensic expert may make the difference between victory or defeat.
2020 Sample Motions Collection Update - CD-ROM
NACDL’s 2020 Sample Motions Collection is the follow-up to our wildly popular 2019 Sample Motions Collection and contains the newest and most recent additions to our ever-expanding Sample Motions library.
State v. Stone - A Case Study on Child Sexual Molestation & Sexual Battery (2020)
The criminal defense attorney tasked with defending such a case has to be prepared to not only show reasonable doubt, but to answer this question: If it did not happen, how is it that the child believes it did happen?
POZNER ON CROSS: Advanced Cross of Experts & Officers in DUI Cases
It’s not your strong opening argument. It’s not how many of your impassioned objections the judge sustains. It’s not even how you tie your theory of the case together with a dazzling closing statement bow. What wins your trial is your cross.
NACDL has been and remains committed to examining race as an issue within the criminal justice system, convening projects and the Race Matters I and II conferences in 2017 and 2019, to address tackling the issue of racial bias in the court system.
We continued these efforts August 23-25, 2018 at the Presidential Summit concurrent with our 17th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference. The event, entitled Shattering the Shackles of Collateral Consequences: Exploring Moral Principles and Economic Innovations to Restore Rights and Opportunity, was our opportunity to shed light on how the pervasive collateral consequences and legal barriers that arise from contact with the criminal justice system, in particular as they relate to race.
Race and the Criminal Legal System Discussion Series
This discussion series seeks to highlight how race intersects with various issues in the criminal legal system, navigating these racial disparities, and ways to advocate for change. Previous events have focused on issues around policing, pretrial practices, public defense and collateral consequences. Please check the webinar resources page for updates regarding additional events.
Race Matters Summit: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice
Race Matters in our criminal justice system. It affects what happens from initial contact with police on the street, to the end of the case and everything in between. As part of being effective advocates for our clients, criminal defense lawyers face the challenge of confronting the difficult issues presented by race in America. The Race Matters program is designed to help practitioners identify and confront issues of racial bias in our courts, the law enforcement community, by prosecutors, and yes, even the defense team. Check out videos of each presentation from our past two programs, as well as related written materials.
Additionally, for CLE-eligible opportunities, please check out Race Matters III, a 13-hour webseries available for online purchase. Registration is also open for the 4th Annual Summit, Race Matters IV, which will be held in-person in Chicago, IL, September 1-3, 2021.
On Thursday, October 16, 2014, NACDL hosted a webinar entitled Under Siege: The Defense Bar Examines Police Militarization, Ethnic & Racial Dynamics of Sentencing, and Their Impact on Criminal Justice Outcomes. The webinar was in response to the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri subsequent to the police killing of an unarmed black teenager; and the ensuing swift and extreme police response.
The webinar also explored the plethora of polarizing issues including racism, implicit bias, disparate sentencing policies, as well as, the over-policing of minority and poor communities.
Panel I-The Issues, addressed militarization, ethnic & racial dynamics of sentencing and their impact on criminal justice outcomes. Panel II-Community Perspective and Solutions examined the historical and systemic issues associated with crime and the response of police to those communities most affected by crime. The panel also addressed solutions policy makers and communities can make to solve these issues on the local, state and federal level.
Racial Disparity Project
Since 2012, NACDL has embarked upon an important and timely project addressing racial and ethnic disparities within the criminal justice system. NACDL, along with the Brennan Center for Justice, the New York County Lawyers' Association, the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, initiated the project with a two and a half day convening entitled Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System, culminating with the release of academic articles recently published in the New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.
Elements of the project have included the October 2012 convening; a report detailing recommendations generated from the convening; a series of articles on race published in The Champion magazine; a three-part podcast featuring organizers of the conference discussing the goals and objectives of the convening and subsequent report; the second convening entitled Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: Advancing the Reform Dialogue Through Action with links to the webcast; and the New York Journal of Legislation and Public Policy academic articles are the final elements of this major undertaking. The Journal series features articles from leading academics on the issue of race and ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system. In addition many of the academics participated on panels related to their articles.
- "How NYPD’s Vice Unit Got Prostitution Policing All Wrong,"
- "Idaho Governor Signs Bill To Ban Critical Race Theory In Schools,"
- "Psychiatry Confronts Its Racist Past, and Tries to Make Amends,"
Racial Disparity News Releases
- News Release ~ 05/31/2020
News Release ~ 01/07/2019
In Landmark Case, Vermont Supreme Court Issues Unanimous Racial Profiling Decision -- Washington, DC (Jan. 7, 2019) – On Friday, January 4, 2019, the Vermont Supreme Court unanimously found that law enforcement can be civilly liable for discriminatory searches and seizures in violation of the Vermont Constitution.
News Release ~ 08/14/2017
Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Responds to Racism, Bigotry, and Violence in Charlottesville, VA -- Washington, DC (Aug. 14, 2017) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is profoundly disturbed by recent events in Charlottesville, VA. While NACDL respects the First Amendment rights of all people peaceably to assemble and express their views, even unpopular ones, NACDL deplores violence, racism, and bigotry.
Racial Disparity Media Items
Race + Criminal Legal System: Collateral Consequences Part II
In Part I of our discussion on Race and Collateral Consequences, we heard from our featured panelists just how the collateral consequences of a conviction – the specific legal barriers, generalized discrimination, and social stigma – have become more numerous and severe. Much like the Jim Crow Laws that relegated African Americans to a permanent and multi-generational underclass, collateral consequences stemming from criminal conviction can be an individual’s most serious punishment, permanently relegating a person to second-class status. In Part II of this discussion, we take a deep dive into how a past criminal conviction can impact an individual’s ability to participate in certain industries, e.g. the legal profession, the cannabis industry, and other business and entrepreneurship opportunities.
This webinar features Robert Patillo, Executive Director of the Rainbow PUSH Atlanta Peachtree Street Project (moderator); Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance; Kevin Garrett, Fellow at the Texas Jail Project; and Tracey Syphax, Author and Entrepreneur, From the Block to the Boardroom, LLC. Join us for this important discussion and hear from our speakers how over policing and over incarcerating communities of color, and using prior convictions to effectively restrict access to these professional opportunities serves to prevent the accumulation of wealth and power, thus continuing to marginalize these communities.
- Applying for SBA COVID-19 relief with a criminal record in 2021, Collateral Consequences Resource Center (March 2021)
- Two significant new occupational licensing laws enacted in 2021, Collateral Consequences Resource Center (February 2021)
- The Road to Cannabis Industry Equality, The Hoban Minute Podcast, Episode 91, featuring Jason Ortiz (July 2020)
- Formerly Incarcerated Businessowners Sue SBA for Denying Them COVID-19 Emergency Loans, The Appeal (June 2020)
- Equity Must Be at the Heart of Marijuana Legalization, ACLU (June 2019)
- From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization, Drug Policy Alliance (January 2018)
- Deborah Rhode, Virtue and the Law: The Good Moral Character Requirement in Occupational Licensing, Bar Regulation, and Immigration Proceedings, 43 Law & Social Inquiry 1027 (2018)
- Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-Entry Strategy, FIELD at the Aspen Institute (September 2016)
- The Crippling Effect of Incarceration on Wealth, Prison Policy Institute (April 2016)
- Steven Slivinski, Turning Shackles into Bootstraps: Why Occupational Licensing Reform Is the Missing Piece of Criminal Justice Reform, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University no. 2016-01 (November 2016)
- From the Block to the Boardroom by Tracey Syphax
- 2020 JCMH Summit: Lived Experience Expert featuring Kevin Garrett, Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health (January 2021)
- Kevin Garrett at Texas Jail Project, Texas Jail Project (January 2021)
- Chris Vaughn, Good will of others puts Fort Worth native, 44, on path to redemption, Fort Worth Star Telegram (July 2011)
- Peer Voices, Texas Jail Project (2019-2020)
- Barriers to Rapidly Growing Professions State Fact Sheets, National Employment Law Project (December 2020)
- Fair Chance Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions, National Employment Law Project (December 2019)
A graduate of Clark Atlanta University and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Attorney Robert Hillard Patillo, II is a lifelong civil and human rights activist. He is entirely dedicated to serving the poor and underprivileged. As an activist, Patillo has led workers on organization campaigns to petition for better wages, worked to integrate segregated organizations, and assisted discriminated workers against celebrity Chef Paula Deen while working with Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
An experienced political strategist, has Patillo worked for over a 15 year on political campaigns on the local, state and national level. Patillo is currently a talk radio host on CBS Radio/ENTERCOM Radio and is a highly sought after political commentator and national speaker. Patillo has been featured in articles in the New York Times, Huffington Post and Politico Magazine to name a few is a frequent guest on cable news networks including Fox News, CNN, News One Now, One America News Network and Russia Today. Patillo currently is the chief attorney at The Patillo Law Group, LLC, “A Christian Centered Law Practice” focusing on civil rights law.
Kassandra Frederique is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities—and build alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.
During her time at DPA, Frederique has built and led innovative campaigns around policing, the overdose crisis, and marijuana legalization—each with a consistent racial justice focus. Her advocacy, and all of the Drug Policy Alliance’s work, lies at the intersection of health, equity, autonomy, and justice.
From August 1989 to May 2001, Kevin Garrett, JD served considerable time incarcerated in both county jails and in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison system. While in TDCJ, he saw that individuals needing mental health and substance abuse services were all given a generic diagnosis and housed in general population with other offenders. The end of his stay in TDCJ would mark the beginning of his personal quest for recovery, and eventually, the study of regulations and laws of the criminal justice system in Texas.
Mr. Garrett went from being homeless in 2006 to graduating magna cum laude from Texas Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies in 2011.In the spring of 2018, Garrett earned his JD from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, earning the CALI award in Texas criminal procedure given to the student with the highest grade in a class.
He is the former Peer Policy Fellow at Texas Jail Project where he used his lived experience to expand TJP’s capacity as well as expanding the organization’s collaborative efforts with other stakeholders across the state. As a fellow, he worked for Texas Jail Project on issues having to do with mental health and contributing to their mission to improve conditions and the treatment of people in Texas county jails. During the 86th Texas Legislature, Kevin was an integral part of TJP, spearheading six bills to help transform the state’s jails into safer and healthier facilities. One of those, HB 1651, was signed into law in September 2019 and helps nearly 5,000 pregnant inmates annually in getting access to better prenatal care.
In the spring of 2020, he was granted a waiver by the Texas Board of Law Examiners that allowed him the opportunity to sit for the October 2020 Texas bar exam, which he passed. He is currently awaiting certification from the Texas Supreme Court to begin practicing mental health defense.
He also serves as the Vice Chair of the State Bar of Texas’ Disability Issues Committee and Chair of the Mental Health sub-committee and is a Commissioner on the Judicial Commission on Mental Health.
Author and Chief Executive of From The Block to The Board Room, Mr. Tracey D. Syphax is the Chief Operating Officer of Phax Group LLC., owner and manager of multiple residential properties in Mercer County, New Jersey and a Partner with Re-entry Ventures. As founder of From the Block to the Boardroom, Tracey serves as a moti-vational speaker, business consultant, author and self-publisher of his award winning Memoir “From the Block to the Boardroom” which chronicles his early years, and personal story of in-carceration, a testimony of triumph over tragedy. After exemplifying the power of overcoming tragedies, Mr. Syphax received a pardon from New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie.
Mr. Syphax is a 22 year distinguished innovator and advocate for criminal justice reform us-ing proper re-entry tools which encourage entrepreneurship for returning citizens. Mr. Syphax was named as one of the “Twenty Five Most Influential African Americans in New Jersey” for two consecutive years by the South Jersey Journal. Presently, Tracey is a Board Member of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. The Chamber serves as a resource for businesses to develop and access new investment opportunities. Mr. Syphax made history in 2011 as the first African American to be awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce. Tracey is a proud servant as a Co-Chairman of the Trustee Board at Union Baptist Church, located in Trenton, New Jersey. Tracey was recognized by President Obama as a White House “Champion of Change” in 2014 for his impactful work in the re-entry field and for being a consistent advocate on behalf of the formerly impacted population.
Tracey’s 2019 appointment to the Cannabis Trade Federation Diversity, Equality and Inclu-sion Task Force (CTF DEI) is recognition for his outstanding efforts in disinvested communi-ties. His mission and contributions to the CTF DEI is to advocate for the expansion of diversity of economic opportunities related to the cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of cannabis. Tracey is a voice for policies that expand ownership of non-traditional business ventures and also the development of community partnerships supporting cannabis commerce.
Race + Criminal Legal System: Collateral Consequences Part I
As Michelle Alexander observed in The New Jim Crow, “It is legal today to discriminate against individuals with criminal records in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of education opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal."
Much like the Jim Crow Laws that relegated African Americans to a permanent and multi-generational underclass, collateral consequences stemming from criminal convictions have decimated entire communities. The vast array of consequences imposed on those with criminal records has hit communities of color the hardest, largely due to disproportionate policing and prosecutorial practices within the criminal legal system.
This webinar features Cynthia Roseberry, Deputy Director for the National Policy Advocacy Department for the ACLU (moderator); Rob DeLeon, Vice President of Programs for The Fortune Society; David Singleton, Executive Director for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center; and Quintin Williams, Program Officer for the Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform Program at The Joyce Foundation.
- Conviction, Imprisonment, and Lost Earnings: How Involvement with the Criminal Justice System Deepens Inequality, The Brennan Center for Justice (September 2020)
- Williams, Q., & Rumpf, C., What’s After Good?: The Burden of Post-Incarceration Life, 8 J. of Qualitative Crim. Just. & Criminology 3 (2020)
- David Singleton, Restoring Humanity by Forgetting the Past, 81 Ohio St. L.J. 6 (2020)
- Report to the United Nations on Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System, The Sentencing Project (April 2018)
- Collateral Consequences of the War on Drugs, The ACLU (January 2003)
- Words From Prison: The Collateral Consequences of Incarceration, The ACLU
- Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (The New Yorker book review by Anna Altman and Katia Bachko)
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller (NPR book review by Ericka Taylor)
Cynthia W. Roseberry is the Deputy Director for Policy, Justice Division at the American Civil Liberties Union. At the national ACLU, Ms. Roseberry works to reform the criminal justice system. Focusing on issues like policing, bail reform, clemency, the death penalty, and other criminal justice related matters her work supports ACLU affiliates across the nation.
During the Obama administration, she served as Executive Director of the historic Clemency Project 2014. Often referred to as the nation’s largest law firm of nearly 4,000 lawyers, it provided pro bono support to obtain release for nearly 2000 people.
Ms. Roseberry was cited in the Merriam Webster Dictionary when the word decarceration was entered. (Decarceration | Definition of Decarceration by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com))
Ms. Roseberry also served on the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, a nine-member, bipartisan, Congressional blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal corrections system. The task force released its groundbreaking report Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives: Final Recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections in January of 2016.
Previously, Ms. Roseberry was the executive director of the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. She has taught advanced criminal procedure and co-taught in the death penalty clinic at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, where she also founded the misdemeanor clinic. For more than 10 years prior to teaching, she practiced federal and state criminal defense in Georgia.
A founding board member of the Georgia Innocence Project, she was the first African- American female president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She received the 2016 COS Humanitarian Award, the 2017 annual service award from the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and the 2017 Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Ms. Roseberry earned her Bachelor of Science from Wilberforce University in Ohio. She earned her Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law.
A national and international speaker, Ms. Roseberry has presented in nearly every U.S. state in Europe and the former Soviet Union and to a delegation of judges from China. Her TEDx talk, My Father, My Hero, delivered from inside a prison, has been critically acclaimed. See her TEDx talk at http://bit.ly/myfather-myhero.
Rob DeLeon is a non-profit executive and advocate for criminal justice reform with over 16 years of experience. He is the Vice President of Programs at The Fortune Society, an organization which provides individuals involved in the criminal justice system with wrap-around clinical and social services to support community reintegration.
Mr. DeLeon, is formerly incarcerated, he spent 10 years in prison beginning at age 17 at which time he was charged, and ultimately convicted as an adult. Since his release, Mr. DeLeon has leveraged his lived experience to become an active leader in juvenile and criminal justice reform initiatives.
As an advocate and spokesperson, Mr. DeLeon has supported and advised on many social justice issues, including prison and parole reform, fairness in policing practices, access to appropriate health care for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, and youth and community justice. He has also collaborated with community partners, service providers and government stakeholders on a number of important initiatives including the roll out of Alternatives to Detention for juveniles in the Family Court system, Ban the Box, and Raise the Age.
David Singleton received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991, and his A.B. in Economics and Public Policy from Duke University in 1987. Upon graduation from law school, David received a Skadden Fellowship to work at the Legal Action Center for the Homeless in New York City, where he practiced for three years. He then worked as a public defender for seven years, first with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and then with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. After moving to Cincinnati in the summer of 2001, David practiced at Thompson Hine before joining OJPC as its Executive Director in July 2002. David is also a Professor of Law at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Quintin Williams is a Program Officer at the Joyce Foundation in its Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform Program. He is also a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago. Quintin has dedicated his academic and professional career to the creation of equitable policies for people with records in Illinois and across the country.
Race + Criminal Legal System: Public Defense
A discussion with Matthew Clair, PhD of Stanford University as we dissect his recent book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Published by Princeton University Press, November 2020), moderated by Travis County Chief Public Defender Adeola Ogunkeyede and joined by Porsha-Shaf’on Venable, Supervising Attorney at the Bronx Defenders and Director of Membership for the Black Public Defender’s Association.
- Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court by Matthew Clair
- Matthew Clair and Amanda Woog, Courts and the Abolitionist Movement, 110 Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2022)
- Unequal Before the Law: How did we end up with our current system of public defenders? by Matthew Clair, The Nation (December 14, 2020)
- Alexis Hoag, Black on Black Representation, 96 NYU L. Rev. (forthcoming 2021)
- Shaun Ossei-Owusu The Sixth Amendment Façade: The Racial Evolution of the Right to Counsel, 167 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1161 (2019)
- Do Public Defenders Spend Less Time on Black Clients?, by Maurice Chammah, The Marshall Project (May 2, 2016) (there are some studies, etc. within this article to look at as well)
- Andrea Lyon, Racial Bias and the Importance of Consciousness for Criminal Defense Attorneys, 35 Seattle U. L. Rev. 755 (2012)
- L. Song Richardson and Phillip A. Goff, Implicit Bias in Public Defender Triage, 122 Yale L.J. (2013)
- Gonçalves, Walter, Narrative, Culture, and Individuation: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Race-Conscious Approach to Reduce Implicit Bias for Latinxs, 18 Seattle J. Social Just. 333 (2019)
- Race Matters: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice (2017) (free video content)
- Race Matters II: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice (2019) (free video content)
- Race Matters III: The Intersection of Race and Criminal Justice (2020) (recorded CLE product)
- Black Public Defender Association, follow on Twitter: @BPDA_Justice
- Principles for Creating Sustainability in Public Defense, National Association for Public Defense (March 2021)
Matthew Clair, Ph. D is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and (by courtesy) the Law School at Stanford University. His research broadly examines the law, race, culture, and inequality. His recent book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court examines how race and class injustices in the Boston criminal courts are perpetuated through the attorney-client relationship. Dr. Clair's research and writing has been published or is forthcoming in Criminology, Social Forces, California Law Review, The Nation, Boston Review, and other scientific and popular outlets. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation and awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Society of Criminology, the Law & Society Association, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Adeloa Ogunkeyede is the Chief Public Defender for Travis County, Texas. She inaugurated the role, building out the office’s holistic practice from the ground up. Ms. Ogunkeyede previously served as the inaugural director for the Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program (CRRJ) at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia. Under Ms. Ogunkeyede’s leadership, CRRJ worked to reform the criminal legal system’s over-reliance on incarceration and perpetuation of racial inequity through a strategic mix of community organizing, local and statewide policy advocacy, and impact litigation. Prior to her work in Virginia, Ms. Ogunkeyede was the director of staff development and litigation supervisor of the criminal practice at The Bronx Defenders, where she began her career as a staff attorney.
Porsha-Shaf’on Venable: Born, raised and still residing in the Bronx. Porsha-Shaf’on received her J.D. from California Western School of Law and her MSW from New York University School of Social Work. She initially worked at Bronx Defenders as a Forensic Social Worker. During Law school, she returned to Bronx Defenders as a Law Clerk and after law school, she was a Staff Attorney in the criminal defense practice, the Adolescent Defense Project and a Team Leader. In 2017, she joined the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem as a staff attorney. In October 2017, she returned to the Bronx Defenders for the fourth time in her career. She is currently a supervising attorney.
Racial Disparity Champion Articles
- From the President: A Moment for Change
Rethinking Federal Bail Advocacy to Change the Culture of Detention
The Bail Reform Act was supposed to authorize detention for a narrow set of people: those who are highly dangerous or pose a high risk of absconding. But in many cases, judges and prosecutors are jailing people for reasons not allowed by the statutory rules. It is time to bring federal pretrial detention practices back in line with the law.
Inside NACDL: Rooting Out Bias: How a Bad Stop Can Make Good Law
A dubious traffic stop of a young man in Vermont provided a unique opportunity for NACDL to further its mission to redress systemic racism in the criminal justice system. In February 2018, NACDL submitted an amicus brief in the Vermont Supreme Court urging the court to find an implied right of action under Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution to permit an action against the State for damages and declaratory relief to challenge an unlawful stop based on racial bias.