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.