Participatory Defense is the most accessible way directly affected communities can challenge mass incarceration, and have the movement building dynamic of seeing timely and locally relevant results of their efforts. It is our duty to fight for our people.
Participatory defense is “a community organizing model for people facing charges, their families, and communities to impact the outcomes of cases and transform the landscape of power in the court system.” The model was developed by Raj Jaydev and directly impacted folks working out of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a community organizing, advocacy, and multimedia storytelling organization in San José, California beginning in 2007.
Family members and friends of defendants come together to work with public defenders on their cases. We analyze documents and create social biography packets that include photos, character letters, videos, grades, certificates, pay stubs — anything that reveals the defendant’s good qualities, the support of loved ones, and ties to the community. The packets enable judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and the public to see a human being rather than merely a case number or a list of charges.
HOW IT WORKS
TRANSFORMING THE COURTS THROUGH FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
As activists with a love for the community, we show up in court to
support a person while they are going through state and federal legal systems. One of our clients was bailed out of Fulton County Jail then indicted on Federal charges and locked back up. We went to court with her and was able to get her a signature bond and she’s now out and in our program working to stabilize her life.
Tia Hassell is an Atlanta transplant and a proud alum of North Carolina Central University. She majored in Mass Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Media. Through volunteer efforts and direct impact she discovered her passion for criminal justice reform and helping at-risk youth. Her ultimate goal is to empower and educate her community in as many ways as possible.
In her free time Tia enjoys watching TV and creating content whether it be video editing, photography or special projects.
Devohn Phillips is a New York State University of Albany graduate, formerly incarcerated abolitionist who imagines a world free of policing. Devohn has developed, obtained funding and resources for fellowships for justice impacted Black people. Devohn has worked on ending cash bonds campaigns by doing numerous bailouts and providing social service stabilization programs. Devohn believes that we keep us safe and our communities safe. Devohn is an advent believer in restorative justice and the power of communities banning together to make changes in the communities they live in.
Devohn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exercising, and traveling the world
Denise Ruben is an Abolitionist, Criminal Justice/Civil Rights Activist and Advocate, Community Organizer, and Survivor of Incarceration. While working diligently to lift up the community and dedicating her life to changing the narrative of criminal and social justice reform; she works vigilantly to improve the quality of life for formerly incarcerated, demarginalized, and disenfranchised communities.
I am a formerly incarcerated woman who actively seeks balance and stability for all humans affected by the judicial system.
Bridgette Simpson is a Formerly Incarcerated Survivor, Activist, Advocate, Entrepreneur, Published Author, Motivational Speaker, Mentor, Certified Life Coach, Co-Founder of Barred Business and Formerly Incarcerated Small Business Rescue Fund, Minister of Organizing for M4BL, Organizer for Women Run Campaign, Canvasser for Working Families Party, and Trail Blazer who partners with other Survivors, Activists, Social Justice Reform Organizations, Organizers, Public Figures, Formerly Incarcerated and Incarcerated people to empower, inspire change and promote hope.
After spending a decade training in the professional corporate arena, Bridgette spent 10 years in the state of Georgia’s department of correction, receiving up close and personal training in the penal system. Bridgette now fuses both aspects of her training to educate the masses on the inequalities of the criminal justice system and the pressing need for social justice reform. She also teaches on perseverance, drive, change, and the willingness to overcome any obstacle. Because of Bridgette’s unique experiences, she has the ability to connect with the beating hearts of people who are or have been behind bars, their supporters and people who are uninformed about the malfunctions of the criminal justice system