News Release

Michelle Alexander Receives Champion of Justice Civic and Humanitarian Award from the Nation's Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (April 25, 2018) — At the Foundation for Criminal Justice Gala celebrating the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at 60 Years on April 20, 2018, in New York City, NACDL presented its Champion of Justice Civic and Humanitarian Award to Michelle Alexander. NACDL’s Champion of Justice Civic and Humanitarian Award is bestowed upon those individuals who have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.

Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author. Her recent book, the award-winning The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has inspired racial justice advocacy efforts and a debate about the crisis of mass incarceration nationwide. Currently, Alexander is a Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she explores the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration. She also works on multi-media projects aimed at transforming public consciousness with respect to race, justice, and democracy in America.

NACDL President Rick Jones, who presented Alexander with the award, said: "It’s not often that we get the sense that we are experiencing a cultural shift in real time. Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking work has truly provided a voice and a spark to a much-need national conversation. Her seminal work The New Jim Crow has provided the carefully researched historical and present-day context for the racial issues we are grappling with in the moment.  Michelle and her work are reminders that we are an imperfect Union and a call to all of us to join the fight to ensure that justice truly is a right for all."

In 2015, Alexander was named a Senior Fellow for the Ford Foundation. She also previously taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship and accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California. In addition to her non-profit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, including at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California. After graduating law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Alexander has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including, among others, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, C-Span, and Democracy Now! She has also written for numerous publications including, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, and HuffPost.

Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University.

To see past recipients of NACDL's Champion of Justice Award, please visit

The 2018 Foundation for Criminal Justice Gala Celebrating NACDL at 60 was sponsored in part by Diamond Jubilee Champion Paul, Weiss; and Champions of Liberty Greenberg Traurig, Kramer Levin, Skadden, and Winston & Strawn.

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Alexandra Funk, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7647 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.