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ANNOUNCING THE MOVE OF ZEALOUS FROM BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES TO THE JUSTICE COLLABORATIVE

The Justice Collaborative (TJC) and Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) are excited to announce that Zealous, a project incubated at BDS to support public defenders in leveraging their perspective and expertise for systemic advocacy, will be transitioning to The Justice Collaborative as a key pillar of TJC’s national reform work. Scott Hechinger and Crystal Maloney will continue to lead this defender initiative at TJC.

Hechinger will be Senior Advisor at TJC and Director of Zealous. He was formerly Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Policy at BDS. Maloney will be Advisor on New Media at TJC and Chief of Innovation & Strategy for Zealous. An attorney, she was formerly Coordinator of Media Advocacy at BDS.

As COVID-19 sweeps through communities, courtrooms, jails, and prisons, the need for bold defender advocacy coordinated on a national scale is needed now more than ever. TJC supports people and organizations working to end mass criminalization and build in its place a society with dignity and freedom for all. Across the country, public defenders have stepped up as both courageous first responders in the courtroom and also as powerful advocates outside of court calling for the immediate reshaping of the criminal legal system to promote health and justice.

In September 2019, Zealous held its first national convening: A media and movement building event in Brooklyn for 52 defenders, representing 42 different public defense offices, in 27 different states. See Recap Video. The immersive training was led by a range of expert facilitators from a wide variety of fields.

Out of the training, Zealous launched a national, coordinated community of bold, strategic, and trained public defender advocates, prepared to advocate outside of court, forge and strengthen critical alliances, and initiate high impact campaigns. Zealous will now be able to grow its capacity and by extension, the advocacy impact of potentially thousands of public defenders across the country at this critical time.

Public defenders and defender offices ​are a reservoir of expertise and energy to attack, dismantle, and improve the systems that deprive access to justice to people hauled into legal systems across the United States. In its new home with The Justice Collaborative, Zealous will be positioned to be a resource to those defenders and continue the good work that began at the first training.

For more information, contact: media@thejusticecollaborative.com

News

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS RELEASE OF 11 IMMIGRANTS FROM ICE DETENTION, INCLUDING MAN WHOSE AUDIO RECORDING REVEALED ACCOUNT OF HUNGER STRIKE FROM INSIDE HUDSON COUNTY JAIL

April 3, 2020

CONTACT: Daniel Ball, 203-213-9303 dball@bds.org

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES WINS RELEASE OF ELEVEN IMMIGRANTS FROM ICE DETENTION; RENEWS CALL FOR RELEASE OF ALL DETAINED AMID COVID CRISIS

Releases Include Ronal Umaña Whose Audio Recording Revealed Account of Hunger Strike and Conditions from Inside Hudson County Correctional Facility

(NEW YORK, NY) – This week, Brooklyn Defender Services won the release of eleven immigrants from ICE detention, after securing the release of ten immigrants on March 26 in the landmark Basank v. Decker ruling, finding that ICE has shown deliberate indifference to the medical needs of detained immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 16, through habeas corpus litigation in federal court, bond hearings, winning removal hearings on their merits, and administrative release requests, BDS attorneys have won the release of 34 immigrants, many of whom had medical conditions that placed them at serious risk if exposed to COVID-19.

Among those released this week was Mr. Ronal Umaña, a 30 year old immigrant from El Salvador, who was detained at Hudson County Correctional Facility. Mr. Umaña was one of the first detained immigrants to speak publicly about the conditions he endured amid the COVID-19 crisis via audio recording last week.

Ronal Umaña said: “I feel free. I have my liberty, and I’m not suffering anymore. Especially as I was during the quarantine and I’m very grateful to my lawyers for that. I feel free and happy to be with my family after all the fear and threats that we faced at Hudson, where the officers even pointed tear gas guns at us.”

Andrea Saenz, Attorney-in-Charge, New York Immigrant Family Unity Project at Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “As conditions in ICE detention worsen and more people we represent and other detained immigrants begin suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, the situation becomes more and more dire. For weeks, we have called for immediate release of immigrants detained by ICE and a halting of ICE enforcement. With ICE ignoring most of our requests for release, our staff have filed over twenty federal court petitions or requests for emergency relief, and plan to keep doing so. As this crisis unfolds, we cannot and we will not stop until ICE frees them all.”

Gabriela Domenzain, Senior Advisor, Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “While we are thrilled that eleven more families are together and safe today, it’s not enough. ICE is choosing to place immigrants directly in the path of this deadly virus with utter disregard for their humanity. In New York City, where all detained immigrants have access to counsel, our lawyers have gone through extraordinary measures to secure the release of our clients. But the majority of immigrants don’t have lawyers and are rendered powerless to ICE’s inhumanity. ICE must prevent further contagion and death and free them all.”

 

Ronal Umaña holds his niece, who was born while he was in detention