What We Do

ArchCity Defenders is Redefining Advocacy

Each year, ACD represents over 1,000 people who are caught in the web of our legal system and who desperately need someone in their corner. We resolve our clients’ legal issues that stand in the way of accessing housing, jobs, and providing a stable life for their children.  We do whatever is needed to help our clients – finding housing, linking them to utility assistance, and connecting them to employment, social services, and treatment.

ArchCity is challenging debtors’ prisons, the use of cash bail, inhumane jail conditions, police misconduct, violations of Freedom of Speech, Due Process, and Equal Protection.

As a result of our litigation, courts have awarded $19 million in damages to thousands of people who have suffered catastrophic life consequences from revenue-based policing and racial profiling.

In 2019, ArchCity Defenders and partners from across the country challenged a system of cash bail that routinely caused people to be jailed pretrial in St. Louis because they could not afford to buy their freedom. While the case was dismissed in 2021, the case has impacted people’s lives and court operations. For more on this, click here.

In municipalities where ArchCity challenged debtors’ prisons, revenue collected from excessive fines, fees, and jails has dropped dramatically. For example, in St. Ann, Missouri, their municipal court generated $3,293,985.08 in 2014, compared to $96,181.65 in 2022. 

The outrageous number of warrants issued in St. Louis County municipalities has plummeted as a result of the lawsuits ArchCity filed challenging revenue-based policing – in the case of Ferguson, warrants have dropped from 33,000 (2014) to 318 (2022).

ArchCity has developed a series of local “know your rights” guides for residents who have interactions with the legal system. Some examples include: getting arrested, going to municipal court, and facing eviction. These guides are part of our #ProSeSTL series and can be found here.

ArchCity has formed strong partnerships with community organizations and anchored campaigns and coalitions. For more on this, please visit:

People’s Plan STL

Close the Workhouse  

Defund. Re-envision. Transform. 

Through our media advocacy, ArchCity has raised critical awareness and uplifted our clients’ stories to create much-needed public dialogue about the abuses within the legal system.

As a result of our social services team, we have connected clients and families with utility and rental assistance, internet and transportation access, routine deliveries of food, and access to recovering identification.

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