Liman Public Interest Workshop

Moving Criminal Justice

Spring 2016
Mondays, 6:10-8pm, Room 124

Sarah Baumgartel, Senior Liman Fellow in Residence
Johanna Kalb, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Director, Arthur Liman Public Interest Program
Student Conveners: Celina Aldape, Asli Bashir, Will Bloom, Katie Haas


Today there are reform projects underway at every stage of the U.S. criminal justice system, working to reshape policing, prosecution and defense, sentencing, incarceration, and reintegration. While concerns about the financial and human toll of mass incarceration have created consensus across the political spectrum about the need for change, the question remains how law, organizing, media, and advocacy tools can be successfully deployed and towards what ends. Our conversation will consider how reform agendas are formulated, gain currency, and result in changes in laws and practices that produce consequences, both generative and harmful. By examining how successful reform efforts build on extant social, religious, and political movements or create new ones, use communication systems and law, and imagine the future, we seek a better understanding of both the promise of this political moment and its limits.

Participants in this Workshop will examine the drivers for and the strategies employed in successful criminal justice reform movements in the United States. We will consider the role that international human rights law and strategies have played in these movements. Our discussion will critically explore the drivers for and the impacts of these strategies. We will then consider the challenge of rights enforcement as it relates to questions of American sovereignty, culture, democratic politics, foreign policy, and federalism. We will explore the efficacy and legitimacy of the multi-faceted strategies that advocates have adopted to advance human rights law, inside and outside the courts, through UN and regional mechanisms, and in the mobilization of grassroots communities. 2 units, credit/fail.