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Make Them Hear You: Participatory Defense and the Struggle for Criminal Justice Reform

March 2015

Janet Moore, Marla Sandys, Raj Jayadev


The authors of this article argue for a new approach to offering public defense for accused citizens as a new way to challenge mass incarceration. Participatory defense involves a grassroots movements made up of minority communities, those who face charges, and their families who speak out for greater accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system. The authors review empirical, theoretical, and doctrinal perspectives in this article to back their argument of participatory defense. They explain how involving members from communities most effected by mass incarceration is important to lobbying for reform litigation and policies

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Policy Implications

By involving communities most effected by mass incarceration the authors hope to get them more involved in the political process. Making their voices heard not only in the new but also at the ballot box. This could persuade policy makers and politicians to pay greater attention to their grievances.

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