Racial Justice Project

The criminal legal system is a particularly stark and sobering example of the myriad ways in which racial bias and inequity infect our society. 

People of color are vastly underrepresented as prosecutors, judges, and even jurors—in essence, the side of the criminal system that is bestowed with power and discretion. On the other hand, people of color are grossly overrepresented on the side without such power: They are more likely to be stopped, profiled, misidentified, charged, overcharged, held with no or higher bail, convicted, and given higher sentences than similarly situated white peers.  Given this, the work of a comprehensive criminal defense organization must be inextricably intertwined with the pursuit of racial equity and racial justice. 

The Aim

The Racial Justice Project purpose is to aid in this pursuit by acting as a supportive and collaborative resource on issues concerning racial equity, both in CAL’s own cases and the system more broadly. The project develops trainings on racial justice issues and reference materials for CAL cases, which are specifically screened for issues of racial inequity including those discussed above. The project also supports initiatives such as CAL’s Anti-Racism Working Group (“ARWG”) which, in addition to compiling anti-racist resources for defense attorneys, performs outside advocacy aimed at racial justice issues.  Finally, the project is always looking for additional ways to support racial justice initiatives in the broader New York community, including the writing of amicus briefs, partnering with like-minded organizations, and supporting progressive legislation. 

Other Special Projects