Aug 15, 2022
Words are powerful. Whether Patrice Sulton is telling the story of Washington DC’s criminal justice system or drafting legislation to overhaul it, she uses hers to advance bold changes in its policing, courts, and jails. For years, as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, Patrice saw first-hand what the data confirms: virtually all criminalized people in this city are poor, Black, and native Washingtonians. In 2020, she founded DC Justice Lab to reimagine failed systems through research, legislation and litigation tailored to this city’s specific issues, including having among the worst jails in the nation. As Patrice explains, DC Justice Lab is laser-focused on DC-centric solutions. And she is equally committed to drafting bills in-house and not outsourcing this role to national organizations without deep community roots. Moving policy makers and city residents who see themselves as progressive to act on their stated values is an ongoing challenge. At DC Justice Lab, Patrice is building a movement for functional and equitable criminal justice systems so that we can start to heal the multi-generational impacts of over policing and incarceration.