Our Story

nikki holds the mic and speaks at a rally

Amistad Law Project is organizing to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. Through strategic campaigns and legal advocacy, we advance healing justice for communities harmed by the criminal legal system, social inequality, and violence. Amistad promotes practical abolition rooted in a Black feminist vision of collective care. This means we fight to abolish death by incarceration, win second chances for people with extreme sentences, and create alternatives to the police, like mobile crisis teams. We believe public safety starts with social equality and work to build a future where our communities have the material resources they need to thrive.


In 2014, Amistad Law Project was founded by Black feminists with the goal of abolishing Death By Incarceration (also known as Life Without Parole) in Pennsylvania. For these movement lawyers, Amistad was the outgrowth of organizing they were already doing to end mass incarceration and build alternatives to policing in Philadelphia. They recognized the violence facing our communities was the result of disinvestment from Black, brown, and poor communities, and understood we couldn’t incarcerate our way out of these problems because the carceral system doesn’t address the root cause of violence, which is social inequality. 


Amistad Law Project advocates for a vision of practical abolition that shrinks the role of the carceral state in the near future while expanding the window of what’s possible over the long haul. To win freedom for members of our communities, we have:   


  • Led a campaign to build Philadelphia’s first non-police mental health crisis response and secured over $10 million to get that program off the ground. 

  • Generated a shift at the Board of Pardons that drastically increased commutations for people serving Life Without Parole, reuniting over 50 people with their families in the last 5 years, including 13 of our clients. 

  • Laid the groundwork to move historic second-chance legislation that, when passed, will offer thousands of people sentenced to Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania a pathway home through parole. 

  • Produced several films and a podcast that amplify the stories of people impacted by extreme sentences and police violence, expanding the public’s imagination for humane interventions that effectively address harm and help people heal.

We are the sister organization to Amistad Movement Power. We are lawyers, movement strategists, and community organizers. We are abolitionists rooted in daily practices that cultivate collective care and build real public safety. We know another world based in equality and abundance is possible, and in deep connection with our communities, we work to bring that world into being.