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Holding Judges Accountable

Much attention has been paid to the role of prosecutors in driving mass incarceration. Yet the role of the judges in putting countless human beings in prison often escapes the same level of scrutiny. And Judicial races often go on without much civic engagement. 

To remedy this, Amistad Law Project helped co-found the Judge Accountability Table. This coalition of Philadelphia-based organizations shines a light on what happens in the courts. In 2019, the Judge Accountability Table held the largest judicial candidate forum and organized people harmed by the criminal legal system to ask questions of the candidates. Our Policy Director Nikki Grant plays the role of Court Watch Coordinator within the coalition. She's helped gain access to the courts for people who want to watch proceedings during the pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, court watch volunteers have observed over 800 hearings, many of which were for people fighting to get out of jail because of health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. She is working on a report about practices that uphold mass incarceration within the First Judicial District. 

Mass incarceration is a set of interlocking social policies. At Amistad Law Project, we intend to dismantle every piece of this machinery. We know that we can build a new justice paradigm rooted in transformation and healing justice not retribution.

Rick Krajewski and Kris Henderson look into the camera
"Judges play a crucial and often overlooked role in fueling mass incarceration. However, by adopting transformative and restorative criminal legal policies and sentencing people to less time, judges can be part of the solution. That’s why I helped form the Judge Accountability Table with Amistad Law Project before embarking on my political career." -State Representative Rick Krajewski