What we do

Partners for Justice trains non-attorney Advocates to provide clients with case navigation and wraparound support, while helping public defenders protect people from incarceration and other legal penalties.

The problem

Historically marginalized communities are more vulnerable to jail time

Our criminal legal system today makes it easy to go to jail, but nearly impossible to get the support you need to get out and stay out. Black and brown people are harmed the most by this system, evidenced by striking disparities in local jail populations. 

Black people are imprisoned at 6x the rate of white people in the United States while Latinos are imprisoned at 3x the rate.

A single arrest can lead to the loss of housing, jobs, children, benefits, and education, disrupting lives for years.

In some communities, a single public defender has to handle upward of 19,000 misdemeanor cases annually. This means that each client receives just seven minutes of counsel and defenders are unable to provide holistic options to support their clients.

9 MILLION

PEOPLE EACH YEAR

9 million people cycle through local jails every year. Over two million people are currently behind bars in America with another 4.5 million on probation or parole.

20 TIMES

MORE LIKELY

Economically disadvantaged people are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated, leading to immediate disruption of lives.

OUR SOLUTION

How it works

Partners for Justice trains non-attorney Advocates to provide clients with case navigation and wraparound support, while helping public defenders protect people from incarceration and other criminal penalties.

Learn more about our impact ›

1

Recent college graduates are selected as Advocates for a two-year term. Advocates are trained by the Partners for Justice team in preparation for their term.

2

Advocates are placed as employees in a host Public Defender’s office, where they receive local training and daily supervision and support.

3

Advocates support Public Defender clients and community members, building a network of local services, community organizations, and civil attorneys.

4

Public Defenders and Advocates work together to reduce jail time and improve case outcomes for more people, disrupting the cycle of poverty and incarceration.

OUR VALUES

What we believe

Client-centered practice: We provide safe spaces for our clients to tell their stories so that we can understand how to help them navigate obstacles and empower their transition into the lives they envision.

Continuous learning: We actively listen to and learn from our clients, our colleagues, and the community, embracing new and creative ways of working.

Equity and inclusivity: Our strategic goals, organizational decision-making, and client services are informed by continued conversations with members of the PFJ community about our diverse lived experiences.  In particular, we strive to center people impacted by the criminal legal system at all levels of the organization.

Self-care: We practice empathy, patience, and kindness toward everyone we interact with, including ourselves, so that we can continue working with energy and positivity.

Tenacity: Confronting the widespread oppression that our clients face requires hard work – we are diligent, thorough, and persistent.

Transformation: We believe that the current system of prisons and policing is oppressive and should be dismantled. We acknowledge the tensions of meanwhile working within that system to reduce the harm to our clients. We also seek to subvert that system by shining a light on our clients’ humanity at every opportunity. We lift up visions of the future where the prison-industrial complex is obsolete and there is no further need for our roles.

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