News & Media

Bloomberg Law: Immigrant Teen's Plight Inspires Wiley Rein Pro Bono Team

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Staff Spotlight: Hannah Lieberman and Katia Garrett

The Committee is thrilled to share the addition of two distinguished advocates to our team, Hannah Lieberman and Katia Garrett

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Standing Against Injustice

Three years ago, Erick Little bravely took a stand against injustice. Today, he is part of positive change that has already made a real difference in his life and in the lives of other local African-American workers.

When he was just 19 years old, in 1987, Mr. Little was convicted of a drug offense. In 2013, he was offered a job as a bus driver with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), subject to a background check. He disclosed the 26-year-old conviction and was assured that it would not be held against him, but the job offer was rescinded anyway. As he recounted, “WMATA sent me, and many others, the message that the first mistake you make is the only thing that matters.” 

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Civil Rights and Social Justice Organizations File Amicus Brief in Support of Preliminary Injunction to Enjoin Rescission of the DACA Program Filed in Two Cases in the Eastern District of New York

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Nationwide Property Management Company Policy of Excluding Individuals Because of Criminal History is Race and National Origin Discrimination

Today, the promise of meaningful housing choice provided in our federal and local fair housing laws continues to be illusory as housing segregation based on race and national origin persists across the nation. Increasingly, property management companies are utilizing arbitrary criminal record bans to exclude individuals with criminal histories—most of whom are African American or Latino—even though efficient and effective alternatives exist to ensure legitimate interests. 

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Equal Rights Center Files Lawsuit Against National Housing Provider Alleging Illegal Race and National Origin Discrimination

MAA criminal records screening policy resulted in illegal discrimination: applicants of color were between 2 and 12 times as likely as whites to be excluded from housing eligibility

Housing segregation based on race remains a profound problem across the nation.  Arbitrarily banning persons with a criminal record – although efficient and effective alternatives exist to ensure legitimate interests – perpetuates racial discrimination.  The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs is proud to file litigation to challenge these practices on behalf of The Equal Rights Center.  We are co-counsel with Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC in the matter.  One’s choice where to live should not be denied because of the color of their skin.

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Class of Job Applicants Reach Settlement Resolving Lawsuit over Discriminatory Impact of WMATA’s Criminal Background Screening Policy

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, a class of African-American applicants and employees who were denied employment opportunities by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) or one of its contractors under a discontinued 2011 criminal background check policy announced that they had reached a settlement with WMATA to resolve their class action lawsuit.

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Volunteer’s Viewpoint: Inside a Parole Hearing

In the late 1990’s, as part of a federalization of the District’s criminal legal system, the District’s prisons were closed and District prisoners were transferred into federal custody. Today, nearly 4,500 people who have been convicted of a felony in the District’s Superior Court are incarcerated in 122 federal institutions across the United States. At the same time, the authority to grant or deny parole to District prisoners was transferred from a locally controlled Board of Parole to the United States Parole Commission. The loss of District control over these critical governmental functions has created injustice for District residents who have been convicted of felony crimes.

We believe parole decisions should be made by local officials who are a part of the community to which prisoners will return. The Committee advocates that the District’s Parole Commission be re-established and that the parole function be performed by District officials.

Until that happens, Committee volunteers provide representation at parole hearings across the country to DC prisoners who have often been incarcerated for years past their parole eligibility date. Our volunteers ensure the parole hearings are fair and Constitutional, and increase the likelihood of a good outcome. Kristian Hinson, an associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, recalls her experience representing one such prisoner.

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The Committee Joins Youth Justice and Civil Rights Professionals, Experts, and Advocates to Offer Comments on the American Correctional Association’s "Proposed Expected Practices and Definitions for the Use of Separation With Juveniles"

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The Committee Files Amicus Briefs in the Supreme Court Challenging Trump's Discriminatory Travel Ban

The briefs were submitted along with a number of civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Advocates for Youth, Center for Reproductive Rights, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Mississippi Center forJustice, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Urban League, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. 

Relevant Documents:
Amicus Brief
Motion for Judicial Notice
Motion for Leave

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