At the end of the last school year, Cienna wrote about students at the University of Washington's law school who were vehemently opposed to a plan to have students work under the tutelage of King County prosecutors—"to get out into the community and learn by doing," in the words of the school's dean—in what's called a prosecution clinic.
Students objected that the program would contribute to, rather than help fix, a criminal justice system that disproportionately criminalizes people of color and is plagued by disparities in resources between prosecutors and defenders. "We're faced with the idea of our school directly having a hand in jailing poor people and minorities," law student Johanna Gusman said. She called the program "the antithesis of social justice."
That plan is dead in the water for now. The School of Law's faculty was to vote on it last Thursday. But law school Dean Kellye Testy tells me they did not take a vote and are instead studying an "innovative approach" proposed by students. She explains:
They have proposed a concentration track in criminal law. The track would not only provide education in the core competencies that criminal defense and prosecution lawyers have traditionally studied (e.g., trial advocacy, client counseling, negotiation, evidence, criminal law and procedure, etc.), but it would also include courses in larger policy issues in the criminal justice system (e.g,. including prosecutorial discretion, structural inequality, access to justice, innovative diversion programs, alternatives to incarceration, etc.). The track would include opportunities for courses as well as for experiential education...Students are trying to come together as constructive problem-solvers and seeking to find an option that works for all of our students.
Which sounds a lot like the prosecution track proposed by students and faculty opposed to the prosecution clinic (I reached out to the group for comment and haven't heard back). Score one for social justice.