In the United States, over 5 million people go to jail every year and nearly 40% are people living in extreme poverty. Once a low-income person is arrested and even before a verdict is reached, they are more likely to experience penalties outside the legal system – such as job loss, eviction, or property seizure – which make it even more difficult to escape from poverty and avoid re-arrest. The criminal legal system is most oppressive to communities of color who experience over-policing and prosecution.
Partners for Justice (PFJ) works to break this cycle by helping people get out of jail and fighting the extra-judicial penalties of arrest that disproportionately impact the poor and people of color. Our teams of Client Advocates are embedded within Public Defender offices, where they can reach the people most vulnerable to the criminal legal system. They also influence culture and practices within their office, encouraging holistic, client-centered approaches. Since our launch in 2018, PFJ has grown rapidly and we now work with nine Public Defender agencies across the country.