The Defenders Clinic focuses on transformative justice in the face of mass incarceration, the over-policing of communities of color, and punitive and retaliatory bail, parole, and clemency systems.

This Clinic isn’t just about learning how to defend a client against myriad matters related to criminal cases; it’s about finding a way forward from the untenable and unethical criminal legal system. Defenders Clinic students share a mission to end mass incarceration by gaining knowledge and first-hand experience in areas such as Criminal Court representation from arraignment through hearings and trial, parole preparation and appeals, solitary confinement, and clemency appeals to the Governor and the President. Members of the Clinic have assisted scores of people seeking clemency from the Governor of New York or the President of the United States, worked with Public Defender offices and experienced practitioners on serious felony cases, and engaged with numerous criminal justice organizations and think-tanks on current issues.

The Defenders Clinic teaching methodology revolves around a pattern of reading, observing, simulating, critiquing, reflecting, and then doing. As part of Clinic practice, student-attorneys counsel their clients with direct supervision from the Clinic directors. In addition to their in-house work, Defenders are also placed with criminal defense and other civil rights and social justice organizations, including all the trial and appellate defense offices in New York City.

Introducing the Second Look Project: Beyond Guilt, created to support incarcerated individuals in their clemency and parole petitions. To date, we have worked with more than 100 people, securing freedom for 40. With 2,300+ requests for help from people inside and their families, our work is only just beginning.