LAW 835

Pay or Stay: An Exploration of the Bail System in America


Criminal Justice

The goal of this course is to provide students with opportunities inside and outside the classroom to examine the role of bail in the criminal legal system, individual's lives and the impact it has on communities. Money bail is the number one driver of high incarceration numbers and it has now come under immense scrutiny throughout the country. This leaves jurisdictions with the question of what is the best way forward if we eliminate money bail? In class, students will have the opportunity to learn about the various attempts at bail reform around the country with particular attention paid to Los Angeles County and California. Students will explore the issue of pretrial (in)justice through a critical race theory lens.Throughout the semester, students will be paired in teams and work closely with an experienced attorney at the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office, to represent clients charged with felonies in bail hearings. This will involve significant work developing a relationship with clients and their families and communities to develop a release plan. Students will prepare bail motions in each case and argue for the release of their client on the record. Due to COVID, the appearance in court portion may or may not be altered, but students will still be working closely with clients and their families to advocate for their pretrial release.Additionally, throughout the semester, students will have the opportunity to work on a policy project related to the functioning of the pretrial system that will have meaningful impact both locally and nationally.

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