Pretrial Justice Clinic
The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world and Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States. One of the biggest drivers of mass incarceration over the past two decades has been the use of cash bail to incarcerate people pretrial. The negative consequences of pretrial incarceration primarily impact communities of color and low-income communities. Although the recent In re Humphrey case in California requires the end of unaffordable cash bail, in practice the same pretrial incarceration rates persist with the same racially disparate impact in Los Angeles. Thus, this course takes a two-pronged advocacy approach to the issue of pretrial incarceration. First, students represent clients in felony bail hearings in collaboration with the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office. Second, students engage in a policy-oriented project focused on systems change in the pretrial justice context. This dual form of advocacy is designed to encourage students to understand how to translate individual client work into systems transformation. Through the combination of interactive classroom lectures, community engagement, skill building exercises, and reflective discussions combined with one-on-one supervision sessions with professors, this course aims to provide students with practical experience in high caliber public defense through a participatory defense lens. The direct representation is situated in a larger context of community/movement lawyering and will consider the overlap and divergences in abolition and public defense.