Ending wealth-based pretrial detention

Every night in this country, there are 500,000 legally innocent human beings locked in cages solely because they cannot afford to make a monetary payment. Civil Rights Corps staff have ended unconstitutional money bail systems in jurisdictions in Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and elsewhere. We have ongoing cases challenging wealth-based detention systems all over the country, including landmark cases in Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois.


Justice, not profit

All across the United States, cities and counties use their local courts as profit centers, funding themselves and enriching a growing number of private, for-profit companies with court costs, fines, and fees assessed against impoverished defendants charged with misdemeanors and  traffic offenses. Civil Rights Corps leads the field with pioneering constitutional cases challenging the use of American courts as sources of revenue rather than justice. We have designed landmark challenges to the privatization of basic local court functions, including our successful challenges to for-profit, "user funded" probation systems, in which probation officers have a personal and direct financial stake in the outcome of hundreds of thousands of people's cases.




Although the Constitution prohibits caging people simply because they are poor, thousands of people are jailed every day because they are unable to pay court fines and fees.  The lawyers at Civil Rights Corps have led the field in designing successful challenges to modern American debtors' prisons in a number of states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, and Tennessee.


Militarization of police

Each year brings an estimated 40,000 armed police raids of homes in the United States, many of them based on scant evidence or fraudulent police assertions. Civil Rights Corps currently represents seven families whose homes were illegally raided by D.C. police.  Our broader goal is to challenge the growing militarization of American police forces, with a particular focus on lessening the devastating impact of those practices on people of color.


The prosecutor project

In addition to our other work, Civil Rights Corps has started The Prosecutor Project, through which we intend to bring the same innovative and relentless systemic civil rights advocacy to the world of the American prosecutor – one of the most unaccountable institutions in our society.  We aim to do with prosecutors what we do in other areas: contribute to a movement that changes the narrative of the criminal system and fundamentally alters the system’s most consequential and entrenched structures.  We will do this through rigorous litigation, advocacy, education, and partnerships, including working with impacted communities, government officials, academics, advocates, organizers, judges, and present and former prosecutors who understand the need for meaningful change.

Civil Rights Corps lawyers first designed and brought many of these landmark civil rights cases while leading the organization Equal Justice Under Law. They now continue and expand upon that work at Civil Rights Corps, where they work hard every day to investigate and mount new systemic challenges to poverty jailing and other systemic injustices nationwide.