Mission, Vision, Values


ArchCity Defenders (ACD) is a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color. ACD’s foundation of civil and criminal legal representation, social services, impact litigation, policy and media advocacy, and community collaboration achieves and inspires justice and equitable outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region and beyond.


ArchCity Defenders envisions a society liberated from systems of oppression where the promise of justice and racial equity is realized; communities where our approach to public safety prioritizes investment in well-being, health, and transformation without relying on criminalization and incarceration; and people living freely in their communities, thriving regardless of their race or income.


ArchCity Defenders is committed to revolutionary justice. We believe that the law is not the final arbiter of justice; rather, we advance a view of justice rooted in love, support, accountability, and equity for all people.

We are an antiracist organization that combats racist power, policy, and ideas. Because we understand antiracism to be intersectional, we stand with all people subject to abusive systems of power and privilege. We believe that true antiracism is also feminist, queer, anti-nativist, and anti-poverty, which means that we oppose the exploitative system of capitalism that mass produces poverty.

We believe in advocacy that is people- and community-centered. We are committed to the self-determination of our clients and their communities, and thus are committed to supporting them in building power to exert control over their own lives and destiny.

In our work with clients, partners, and each other, we strive toward abolition of the prison-industrial complex. We believe that our challenges are best addressed by people in intentional and supportive community with each other–with universal access to healthcare, housing, educational and employment opportunities, and shared public spaces–and not by prisons and jails, policing, or prosecution.

Theory of Change