LAJC Launches Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program

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PRESS RELEASE:
Legal Aid Justice Center launches new Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program focused on reducing incarceration and dismantling systems of racial injustice.

On February 21st, 2017, the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) launched a new core program whose goal is to end the criminalization of poverty in Virginia by exposing and addressing the connections among policing, poverty, race, and injustice.

The program will expand on key initiatives such as LAJC’s “Drive Down the Debt” campaign which includes a class action lawsuit currently being litigated that aims to end Virginia’s practice of automatically suspending the driver’s licenses of individuals who are unable to pay court costs and fines.  Over 900,000 Virginians- 1 in 6 Virginia drivers- has a suspended driver’s license due in part to unpaid court costs and fines.

“With dedicated staff, this new program will enhance our cutting-edge work to dismantle systems of oppression that make and keep people poor and that rip apart communities,” said LAJC Executive Director Mary Bauer. 

Under the leadership of newly hired Civil Rights and Racial Justice Legal Director, Adeola Ogunkeyede, the program will also identify, investigate, and attack other systems of racial injustice.  Adeola was most recently the Director of Staff Development at The Bronx Defenders, one of the premier criminal and civil justice organizations in New York.

Adeola began her career as a staff attorney in the Bronx Defenders’ Criminal Defense Practice, where she defended thousands of men and women in Bronx Criminal Court. Practicing within a community-oriented, holistic defense model, Adeola collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of attorneys and advocates to help clients avoid or mitigate enmeshed penalties stemming from contact with the criminal justice system such as the loss of employment, housing, parental rights, or the ability to reside in the United States. During her tenure at The Bronx Defenders, she also served as a supervising attorney and the Litigation Supervisor of the criminal practice.

Adeola received her J.D. from Tulane Law School where she was a member of the Criminal Law Clinic, president of the Public Interest Law Foundation, and coordinator of the Street Law Program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Upon graduation, she received the Crest Award for Service and Leadership and the General Maurice Hirsch Award, presented each year to the graduating student who contributes most distinctively and constructively to university or community needs.

After graduation, Adeola interned for the Honorable Carl Stewart of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Before law school, Adeola was a paralegal at a national civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. A native of Queens, N.Y., Adeola received her B.A. from Duke University.

“In today’s climate, it is more important than ever that there be strong, dedicated advocates who can challenge systems of oppression and amplify community calls for change,” said Civil Rights and Racial Justice Legal Director Adeola Ogunkeyede.

The Civil Rights and Racial Justice program will be housed in LAJC’s Richmond office at 123 East Broad Street. A meet and greet with Adeola will be held at Quirk Hotel on March 14th from 5-7 pm. The event will be a fundraiser for LAJC with wine tastings for $17, a portion of which will go to support the newly formed Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program. More information can be found at  www.justice4all.org/raiseyourglass

Press Contact: 
Tim Wallace, Director of Development
Legal Aid Justice Center
Phone: 434.529.1853, Mobile: 773.426.5948
twallace@justice4all.org

Event Contact:
Jessica Wright
Chief Development Officer- Richmond
Legal Aid Justice Center
123 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-340-7741 Mobile: 804-651-9449
jessica@justice4all.org