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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

Criminal Justice Cases and Issues

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Program Work

Capital Punishment

Abu-Jamal v. Beard

Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a policeman in Philadelphia. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted a friend of the court brief, and presented oral argument, in support of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s claim of discrimination in...

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The War on Drugs

Bad Times in Tulia, Texas

An African-American Community in Texas is Victimized by the "War on Drugs"

On July 23, 1999, more than ten percent of Tulia's African-American population was arrested as the result of a drug "sting" conducted by a lone police officer with a...

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Capital Punishment

Commonwealth of PA v. Raymond Whitney

On January 16, 2008, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge William Mazzola threw out the death sentence of LDF client, Raymond Whitney. Mr. Whitney, an African-American man, had been on Pennsylvania's death row for twenty-six years. Not only was Mr. Whitney inadequately represented at trial,...

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Abuse of Police Discretion

Davis v. City of New York

Are residents of public housing in New York City entitled to be free from police harassment in their homes just like other New Yorkers?  Can they be stopped or arrested without regard for their rights?  Has NYC criminalized traveling home or visiting a friend while black or brown?...

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Capital Punishment

Duane Buck: Sentenced to Death Because He is Black

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Capital Punishment

Herbert Williams, Jr. v. Commissioner Richard F. Allen

On September 17, 2008, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Williams v. Allen, 542 F.3d 1326 (11th Cir. 2008), vacated the death sentence of LDF client, Herbert Williams, who had spent almost 20 years on Alabama’s death row.  LDF litigated the case with co-counsel from...

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Juvenile Life Without Parole

Juvenile Life Without Parole

In May of 2008, The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) released, "No Chance to Make it Right: Life Without Parole for Juvenile Offenders in Mississippi." This groundbreaking report examines the racial, social, political, and economic circumstances surrounding juvenile life without...

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Capital Punishment

Landmark: McCleskey v. Kemp

Few cases involving the intersection of race, criminal law, and procedure have had the reach and impact of McCleskey v. Kemp.  The Supreme Court’s decision in McCleskey protected criminal justice laws and policies from being challenged on the basis of racially...

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Capital Punishment

Reams v. Arkansas

Kenneth Reams’ case epitomizes the injustices associated with the administration of the death penalty in the South.  Mr. Reams, who is African-American, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the killing of a white man during the course of an ATM robbery in Pine...

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Fair Sentencing

Reforming California's "Three Strikes" Policy

At the time it was enacted in 1994, California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law, was widely considered to be the harshest sentencing law in the United States. Thousands of people have been sentenced to life in prison for minor crimes like simple drug possession and petty theft.

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