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 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 $8 million in damages to thousands of people who have suffered catastrophic life consequences from revenue-based policing and racial profiling.
In municipalities where ArchCity challenged debtors’ prisons, revenue collected from excessive fines, fees, and jails has dropped dramatically over the last 4 years by anywhere from 76% to 91%.
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 – dropping 70% to 100%, from issuing thousands of warrants to no warrants, and, in the case of Ferguson, warrants have dropped from 33,000 issued annually to 1,500.
On January 28, 2019, ArchCity sued the City of St. Louis for the unconstitutional use of cash bail to wholesale jail people who have not had their day in court.  Within a week of our filing the lawsuit, the four named plaintiffs in our case were released from the horrific Workhouse jail and allowed to return to their families. On June 11, 2019 a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring the City of St. Louis to give a fair bail hearing to every person arrested within 48 hours of their arrest, and a hearing within one week to all those who are currently being held in jail awaiting trial.
In September 2018, ArchCity brought a landmark ‘kettling’ case on behalf of 14 individuals who were brutally beaten and sprayed with toxic chemicals for exercising their Constitutional right to Free Speech.
ArchCity has formed strong partnerships with community organizations including Action St. Louis, The Bail Project, and the Advancement Project to build power within local communities. The campaign to Close the Workhouse jail is a potent collaboration between ArchCity and our community partners.
Through our media advocacy, ArchCity has raised critical awareness and uplifted our clients’ stories to create much-needed public dialogue about the abuses of the legal system.