Our Own Backyard
For years now, UW Law students have been pushing for a Critical Race Theorist and a Diversity Plan that would touch the whole school and equip all law students with knowledge of the weaknesses of the justice system and our own school. UW Law’s administration’s proposed Prosecution Clinic would touch only 8 students per year.
UW Law administrators have arranged a Prosecution Clinic with a touted goal of preparing future prosecutors to lessen the unjust proportion of black and brown people hurt by the criminal justice system.
There is no defense component to this Clinic. Rather than a prosecution-defense Criminal Justice Clinic, like unto that at Chicago, we are providing only one side of the fight–the prosecutor’s office–with free labor in the form of 8 UW Law students.
Prosecutors generally have more financial resources already, and so the balances are tipped even more in their favor.
Racial Bias in Seattle
The Seattle Police Department has a reputation for racial profiling, and UW Law may be prosecuting the most vulnerable members of our community.
Historical Role of Clinics
Clinics have generally provided services for those with none. The Children’s Advocacy Clinic, for example, or the Immigration Law Clinic, have provided services for people with nowhere else to turn.
Existing Clinics Already Underfunded
While other clinics struggle to get off the ground or exist, the administration makes up its mind to have a prosecution clinic and it seemed to us as though money suddenly appeared.
Students have asked for other clinics including a dependency clinic, and they have signaled the lack of consumer law and civil trial advocacy opportunities at the school. We have said that the school is inefficiently allocating funds, and that we don’t think the state should be a client. We have said that there is already an entity fulfilling the role of prosecutor, whereas other clinics provide services unmet by our community.
The prosecution clinic serves only a handful of students, allowing them to practice their trial advocacy skills in a forum that is not currently under-resourced, and is often hostile to communities already underrepresented at UW Law.
A pair of UW professors wrote about how the lack of input hurt our sense of community and faith in curriculum decision-making. And on the wider issues, how they didn’t believe UW clinics should play a role in the present criminal system because of racial disproportionality, mass incarceration, the role of criminalization/incarceration in the maintenance of poverty, and because they believe clinical education should not just educate law students, but should meet unmet legal needs of underserved people.
For more thoughts on why the prosecution clinic at UW has to stop, read the letters section. Then contact Dean Testy lawdean at uw.edu and Prof. Maranville maran at uw.edu telling them why UW Law needs a Critical Race Theorist and a Diversity Plan; tell them to cancel the prosecution clinic and to commit to clinics that address unmet legal needs. And if you like, Cc us at firstname.lastname@example.org Please be kind and respectful; the administration has been both, and anyway, honey attracts more bees than vinegar.