Keisha Hudson on Abolishing the Death Penalty in PA

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Abolishing the Death Penalty would save the lives of many incarcerated people from Philadelphia.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]PHILADELPHIA–“The Defender Association of Philadelphia applauds and supports Governor Shapiro’s call for the Pennsylvania Legislature to abolish the death penalty.

“We know that the death penalty is not a crime deterrent or an avenue to increased public safety. Moreover, many, if not most of the people sitting on death row in Pennsylvania facilities are former Philadelphia residents who do not deserve to be put to death.

“The work of our community allies around compassionate release has demonstrated that many of the people languishing for decades in prison could be safely returned to their communities, and even be positive agents for change in neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence.

“The Defender Association thanks Governor Shapiro for his leadership on this issue. We will lend our expertise and advocacy to any efforts toward legislation that will end this archaic practice once and for all.”

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Black History Month Racial Justice Screening Series

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The Defender & Nat Turner Law School are hosting special screenings and discussions centered on promoting antiracism in our justice system.

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Want to participate remotely in any of the panel discussions on these films? Register using the links below

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February 9, 12 – 2 pm:

“Deeply Rooted: When the King Comes Home” (Watch here)

Panel: Radee Hammett and Michael Coard

 

February 16, 12 – 3 pm:

“Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America” (Watch at PBS.org)

Panel led by: Michael Coard

Register here to join the discussion

 

February 22, 12 – 3 pm:

“Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” (Watch on Netflix)

Panel: Timothy Welbeck and Michael Coard

Register here to join the discussion

 

February 27, 12 – 1:30 pm:

“57 Blocks: a Defender Jawn”

Panel: Christina Tavares, Mary Archer, Radi Allah, Guy Lang and Michael Coard

Register here to join the discussion

 

February 28, 12 – 3 pm:

“Just Mercy” (Watch on HBO Max)

Panel: Michael Coard, Maleeka Jihad and Keisha Hudson

Register here to join the discussion[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Junior Defender Program

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About the Junior Defender Program

The Junior Defender Program coordinates with school administrators to reach out to students in neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. The program provides these students with a foundational understanding of the youth justice system in Philadelphia.

We work alongside middle and high school students to develop age-appropriate and culturally responsive teaching materials that will improve our young clients’ understanding of youth justice system and court-ordered obligations. 

The goal of the program is to reduce the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline, and instead build a pipeline of young people interested in pursuing careers dedicated to the legal defense of adjudicated youth.

The videos below are one of the ways we introduce students to the issues and topics discussed in our Junior Defender sessions: [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1663263795856{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;background-color: #eeeeee !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1663263761326{background-color: #eeeeee !important;}”][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/j9Bc5FEYjZM” title=”Junior Defender: Intro Video”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/xWVLFqOOKmo” title=”Junior Defender: Treat Kids Like Kids!”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1663264338235{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;background-color: #c0eefd !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

To learn more about the Junior Defender Program, Contact Guy Lang (glang@philadefender.org)

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Defender Statement on Conditions at JJSC

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PHILADELPHIA–“The Defender Association of Philadelphia shares the serious concerns of City Council and our community partners about the unsafe conditions in the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center (JJSC).

“Conditions at the JJSC, where our young people are held pending resolution of their cases, are unsafe for the youth, the counselors who supervise the young people housed there, and the medical staff, attorneys, educators, and other supportive professionals who enter the facility every day to serve the children in the facility. Insufficient staffing and overpopulation has limited the children’s access to medical care and educational services, and contributed to multiple reports of assaults among those being held there.

“But simply transporting young people who are waiting for placements, without addressing the underlying needs of the detained population, will not improve the situation. As the legal representatives of many of these children, the Defender recommends that we:

  • be more thoughtful about who is being sentenced to these placements – often located hours away from the young person’s home, school, and community;
  • be more judicious in the use of the detention center to house children with pending charges or other alleged infractions; 
  • make sure we’re making the best use of the alternatives to detention, like GPS monitoring and reporting centers that are available; and finally,
  • partner with community-based organizations here in Philadelphia to connect youth and their families with critically needed wraparound services.

“Many young people at the JJSC  have been detained for periods that are longer than  programs they would be sentenced to complete. They should be home, attending school, and receiving direct supports and services–not continuing to be exposed to ongoing traumas in an overcrowded and understaffed facility.”

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Next Shop Talk: September 30 @ Philadelphia Hair Company

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Click here to Download & Share the Event Flyer

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Don’t Miss Our Next Shop Talk Event: Pardon Us [God Did]

WHEN: Saturday, September 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Philadelphia Hair Company, 5805 Germantown Avenue

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Join us at the Philadelphia Hair Company for FREE community resources, support and information to help you navigate our criminal justice system:
  • Adult & Juvenile Criminal Record Expungements
  • Pardon application support for Marijuana Convictions
  • Information on the School-to-Prison Pipeline
  • And more! 

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Click here to Download & Share the Event Flyer

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Next Shop Talk: September 24 @ Wrights Barber Shop

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Click here to Download & Share the Event Flyer

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1662905190885{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Don’t Miss Our Next Shop Talk Event: Pardon Us [God Did]

WHEN: Saturday, September 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Wright’s Barber Shop, 1901 72nd Avenue

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Join us at Wright’s Barbershop for FREE community resources, support and information to help you navigate our criminal justice system:
  • Adult & Juvenile Criminal Record Expungements
  • Pardon application support for Marijuana Convictions
  • Information on the School-to-Prison Pipeline
  • And more! 

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Click here to Download & Share the Event Flyer

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Defender Association Selected for the Catalyst Grant Program

The Defender Association’s Police Accountability Unit has been selected by Urban Institute & Microsoft for the 2022 Catalyst Grant!

The Defender Association is one of 30 local organizations across the country selected to participate in the Program. With Catalyst Grant funding, the PAU will publish a data dashboard that will empower community members to understand racial disparities in car stops across Philadelphia.

The dashboard, which will be automatically updated with the most current data available, will illustrate the intensity of police activity in neighborhoods across the city and show disparities in police stops by race, gender, and age.

It will help policymakers, legal practitioners, and community members understand patterns in car stops since Philly’s Driving Equality law was enacted, identify policing trends and systemic issues across the city, and challenge the effective legality of racial profiling in car stops.

Click here to learn more about the 2022 Catalyst Grant Program

Expungement Event: July 31

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The Defender is partnering with Cannabis Noire to provide FREE expungements and information as part of the “Summer of Social Justice” series! 

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WHEN: Saturday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: One Art Community Center, 1431 N. 52nd Street

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All are welcome to join us for FREE criminal record expungements, educational workshops about how our justice system works, and MORE! 

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Expungement Event: July 23

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The Defender is partnering with Cannabis Noire to provide FREE expungements and information as part of the “Summer of Social Justice” series! 

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WHEN: Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHERE: Discovery Center in Fairmount Park – 3401 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia

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All are welcome to join us for FREE criminal record expungements, educational workshops about how our justice system works, and MORE! 

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Chief Defender Celebrates Budget Increase with City Council Members

PHILADELPHIA–Chief Defender Keisha Hudson was joined today by Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson (Second District) and Maria Quiñones-Sanchez (Seventh District) for a press conference to celebrate the Defender Association’s $5.8 million budget increase in the new City of Philadelphia’s Fiscal Year 2023 Operating Budget, which started July 1. All of the funds from the budget increase will be used to raise salaries for Defender attorneys and non-attorney staff. 

“We want to take this opportunity to thank City Council, particularly Councilmembers Johnson and Quiñones-Sanchez, for making this increase a reality,” said Hudson.

Hudson credited Councilmember Johnson for helping to secure much-needed City Council support for the increase. “At a time when we weren’t sure exactly how much City Council support we had for our budget increase,” she said, “It was Councilmember Johnson who took the lead in writing a support letter to the Mayor that was signed by 12 other members of City Council.”

Councilmember Johnson said his efforts to help secure the $5.8 million increase in funding were necessary to “guarantee a defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel in order to increase the fairness and likelihood of justice ultimately being reached in a criminal justice system.”

 “Our public defenders experienced unprecedented challenges throughout the past few years during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson continued, “They have acted as first responders and continued to advocate for their defendants while putting their own lives at risk, never resting in the defense of their clients.” 

Hudson also thanked Quiñones-Sanchez for her public statements in support of increased funding for the Defender Association, saying, “Councilmember Quiñones-Sanchez was one of the leaders who publicly called for us to receive more funding at a time when advocating for defendants isn’t the most popular stance to take. But she and others understand that an unbalanced justice system is not only unfair, but ineffective at bringing meaningful public safety to our city.”

Lauren Farrell is Deputy Director for Region 9 of the United Auto Workers, the union who represents attorneys at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Farrell heralded the budget increase as a positive development as the Defender Association negotiates the first collective bargaining agreement with its attorneys. 

“Attorneys in the Philadelphia Public Defender’s office formed their union with the UAW to make positive changes in the office in order to better serve their clients,” she said, “The increase to the budget allows them to achieve a fair, equitable contract with living wages that will promote longevity within the office, and ultimately aid in the quality of representation for the indigent of our city. “

Legal Clerk Dharuba Cherry, who has been with the Defender Association since 1990, said the increase represents an acknowledgement of the important work done by attorneys and non-attorneys alike. 

“With or without a raise, I would still be a Defender for life,” Cherry said, “But knowing that our work is appreciated by our city leaders makes me even more proud and committed to the Defender Association.”

All of the participants in today’s press conference agreed that, while the budget increase is something to celebrate, more state funding is needed to ensure that public defenders across the Commonwealth have adequate resources.

“Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that provides zero state funding for indigent defense and that forces local governments to pick up the tab,” said Johnson, “Every year, our city operating budget should reflect important values and fight for those most in need.”

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