Centers Of Excellence

Criminal Justice Program

The Criminal Justice Program (CJP) serves as a central hub for research, education, and special projects in criminal law and juvenile justice at UCLA Law.


Moving Justice Forward

Explore the impacts of the criminal legal system on individuals, communities, and American society.

The CJP has several key areas of focus, including police brutality and accountability, criminal law and immigration enforcement, pretrial detention and bail policy, collateral consequences of criminal convictions, youth justice and the family regulation system, restorative and transformative justice, and alternatives to policing and prosecution. Research undertaken by CJP faculty and staff help to inform criminal law and policy at both the national and local levels. The CJP also engages law students directly in research, policy advocacy, and legal advocacy in the fields of criminal law and youth justice.


Faculty affiliated with UCLA Law’s Criminal Justice Program publish impactful scholarship on a wide range of issues, including qualified immunity, the criminalization of immigration, the collateral consequences of criminal convictions, comparative criminal law, fines and fees in the criminal system, Fourth Amendment law, policing, the impact of racial bias on charging and sentencing decisions, plea bargaining, juvenile justice, prison conditions, and much more.


UCLA Law offers a full menu of criminal law courses. In addition to the first-year criminal law class, students have the opportunity to take core advanced courses like Evidence, Criminal Procedure—Investigations, and Criminal Procedure—Adjudications. UCLA Law also offers numerous courses in international and comparative criminal law, including Global Perspectives on Criminal Procedure, and International and Transnational Criminal Justice. There are also many specialty seminars to choose from, including Current Topics in Criminal Law, Suing the Police, The Eighth Amendment Punishments Clause, and Re-envisioning the Lawyer's Role: Trauma Informed Lawyering and Restorative/Transformative Justice.

UCLA Law also offers numerous experiential courses for students interested in criminal practice. Courses such as Criminal Trial Advocacy and Advanced Criminal Trial Advocacy teach valuable courtroom advocacy skills. In addition, students may represent clients under the supervision of experienced faculty in the following experiential courses:

Who We Are


Unless otherwise noted, all Criminal Justice Program events are open to all.

  • Criminal Justice Law Review Annual Symposium

    Whose Streets? Building Safe Communities For All--Fall 2020 Symposium Series

    Sponsored by the Criminal Justice Law Review, the Criminal Justice Program, and the Center for the Study of Women. This series focused on emerging community-centered alternatives that are taking hold amidst calls to defund the police. During each webinar, a panel of scholars, policymakers, lawyers, and activists looked at an iconic neighborhood space--the street, the home, and the school--and explored the possibilities and legal obstacles to creating new forms of response to public safety incidents that are safe and effective for all.

    Symposium series flyer

    Session 1: Street | Monday, October 19, 2020

    Link to video

    In this first session, we examine to what extent neighborhood-driven safety models could replace the police's most visible activity—street-level patrols. Are there better ways to handle "quality of life" crimes than citations and arrests? What other institutions could enforce traffic safety violations? What changes are needed in legal regimes to allow for alternatives to take root? This panel brings together speakers to grapple with these questions.

    Ronda Goldfein, Safehouse
    Farhang Heydari, The Policing Project at NYU Law
    Michael Saavedra, Formerly incarcerated Jailhouse lawyer and UCLA Underground Scholar
    Professor Sunita Patel, UCLA School of Law, Moderator

    This activity is approved for 1 hour of general MCLE credit. UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.

    MCLE Readings:

    Session 2: Home | Monday, October 26, 2020

    Unpredictable, dangerous, and unfortunately common, incidents of intimate partner and family violence are frequently cited as an obstacle to reducing the police presence in a community. However, recent research by the CDC and others suggests that tough on crime approaches to intimate partner violence are less effective at reducing intimate partner violence than programs that provide early violence intervention, prenatal care, shelter, employment, free preschool, and even green spaces. Yet it is still difficult to imagine a safe alternative response to a dynamic situation where violence has been reported, and victims and intervenors may be in danger of immediate, serious harm. This panel brings together experts to discuss what is at stake and what alternatives can and will work.

    Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove, California State Assembly
    Mariah Monsanto, BYP100 She Safe, We Safe Campaign
    Lisa Sangoi, Movement for Family Power
    Dean Allison Korn, UCLA School of Law, Moderator

    This activity is approved for 1 hour of general MCLE credit. UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.

    MCLE Readings:

    Session 3: School | Monday, November 2, 2020

    A major focus of the movement to defund the police is the call for K-12 schools and universities to divest from police. Activists argue that police officers on school campuses do not contribute to safety and only serve to disrupt learning environments for students of color, exacerbating educational inequities and contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. At the same time, proponents of school resource officers argue that in a heavily armed society, schools are no longer presumptively safe spaces, and police officers can be positive role models for students, their presence building trust and understanding between officers and young people. Rounding out our discussion on community-driven public safety, we examine current challenges activists face in the movement to divest from police in schools as well as proposed alternatives to officers in schools.

    SA Smythe, Assistant Professor, UCLA, Gender Studies & African American Studies
    sarah Djato, LAUSD high school student and member-leader of Students Deserve
    Jason P. Nance, Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law
    Professor Máximo Langer, UCLA School of Law, Moderator
    Additional Speakers to be Announced

    This activity is approved for 1 hour of general MCLE credit. UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.

    MCLE Readings:

    Previous Criminal Justice Law Review Symposia

    Spring 2020 - Fees and Fines Policy in California: Current Research & Pathways to Change

    2019 - Reimagining the Criminal Justice System

    2018 - Bail Reform in California and Beyond

  • Connecting Art & Law for Liberation

    The first Connecting Art and Law for Liberation (CALL) Festival took place on April 12-14, 2019 and brought together visionary artists, activists, attorneys, advocates and legal scholars to share innovative, cutting-edge collaborations at the intersection of art and law. We committed to hosting this festival every other year and 2021’s festival took place over zoom and was “A CALL to Imagine Abolitionist Futures.” For more information visit the CALL Festival website.

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Oct 14, 2021

Bail Practicum: Securing Success in County Courtrooms

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Oct 14, 2021

Joanna Schwartz Writes an Op-Ed in USA Today on the Need to Reform Police Qualified Immunity

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