Human Rights Lawyer, Writer, Organizer

Derecka Purnell is a human rights lawyer, writer, and organizer.  She works to end police and prison violence by providing legal assistance, research, and training to community based organizations through an abolitionist framework.  She is the author of new book Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protest, and the Pursuit of Freedom. She helped to build the Justice Project at the Advancement Project’s National Office which focused on consent decrees, police and prosecutor accountability, and jail closures, providing community training, political education and legal representation to organizers. Her advocacy efforts led to the dismissal of over 3,000 cases based on unconstitutional policing practices. Additionally, she supports several campaigns and grassroots organizations around the criminal legal system, electoral justice, and community investment, including Action St. Louis, Dream Defenders, Communities Against Police Crimes and Repression, the Ferguson Collaborative, and the Movement for Black Lives. Derecka also organized the founding steering committee for Law for Black Lives, a growing network of 5,000 law students, lawyers, and legal workers to support social movements. Derecka is a founder and contributor to the COVID19 Policing Project.


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