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.
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