Jails & Prisons

Our clients—who are condemned to a system of brutal and inhumane pretrial detention and incarceration—tell us what we need to know. The problem is that very few care to listen to them, and far fewer believe what they have to say. We listen and take action in the following ways:

Holistic Direct Services

Visit individuals in jail to learn about their experiences and to uncover patterns and practices. With consent, we gather and file legal declarations to support litigation and to raise public awareness.

We provide legal education to women who are in prison and battling civil cases from behind bars. Oftentimes, despite a woman’s attempts to represent herself, being incarcerated and without an attorney puts her at a severe disadvantage that leads to profound loss, like losing custody of her children.

ArchCity Defenders’ Social Services Pilot Program was created in response to the many barriers that clients face to accessing services during the pretrial stage of a criminal legal case. Through this, we provide resources to increase clients’ stability in housing, employment, finance, social networks, and access to necessary care.

Systemic Civil Rights Litigation

As an abolitionist organization, we do not believe there is such a thing as a humane jail. The following lawsuits allege a variety of inhumane and hellish conditions:

Media & Policy Advocacy

In partnership with community members and organizations, our team engages in media and policy advocacy to frame local and national conversations on jails and prisons. Through centering and amplifying our clients’ voices, we expose injustice, combat misinformation, and advocate for ideas that improve the lives of people who have been incarcerated.

Over time, we’ve published audio, video, reports, press statements. Some examples are included below:

Audio Clips
#ACDLive: The Crisis in St. Louis Jails
Inhumane Treatment of People Detained at St. Louis City Jail
Podcasts episodes

The St. Louis American

The St. Louis Jail Crisis is About All of Us

Community Collaborations

Between March 2020 to April 2021, ACD operated a hotline, receiving hundreds of calls from people detained in jail, their loved ones, and former employees. Members of our team connected those individuals with resources to pursue their concerns, whether that was legal services or to groups like the Fatal State Violence Response Program, Defund. Re-envision. Transform, and the Close the Workhouse campaign.