Friday, June 5, 2015

Community Program Empowers People Involved in Criminal Justice System

New York Times piece by David Bornstein highlights the growing “participatory defense” movement, which he describes as “community organizing that empowers people who face charges, as well as family and community members, to influence the judicial process.” The goal, according to Bornstein, is to help Americans understand the criminal justice system so they can prepare for an arrest and/or be more effective in contributing to the defense of loved ones. The Cobarrubius Project, a participatory defense initiative, “holds weekly meetings, at which family members first learn the basics of the criminal justice process and then are asked to gather information: write a detailed statement for the defense about what happened, identify potential witnesses, consider possible sources for evidence, like a security camera or other photos.” Raj Jayadev, who leads the project, “says, when a loved one is arrested, the most that many families feel they can do is hope for a good lawyer. Participatory defense expands their sense of agency.”


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