Alejandra Gutierrez

Alejandra Gutierrez

  • Hosted by National Center for Youth Law
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Davis School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Alejandra’s (she/her/hers) project focuses on advocating for youth funneled into the juvenile justice system in a racially disparate manner by changing systemic responses from punitive to a public health, community-centered approach.

Each year, approximately 40,000 youth are arrested in California. The current punitive response has created alarming racial disparities and perpetuated cycles of incarceration, impacting the lives of our most vulnerable children and youth. In particular, youth living in the Central Valley and Inland Empire regions are excessively and disproportionately policed, criminalized, and punished. Groundbreaking juvenile justice laws recently enacted in California are not implemented effectively or with fidelity in local jurisdictions, resulting in children and youth being unlawfully cast into the juvenile justice system.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Alejandra has:

  • Outreached to and met with 42 individuals representing 22 community-based organizations in San Joaquin County, and 19 individuals representing 12 community-based organizations in Riverside County to support and strengthen local youth justice advocacy efforts
  • Co-hosted a youth gathering with partners in Riverside County that included listening sessions to ensure advocacy efforts are centered on the lived experiences of young people 
  • Disseminated SB 203 Miranda Rights for Youth Bill implementation guides in both counties as well as several communities across California for youth, families, and schools, to ensure the constitutional rights of youth are protected
  • Provided seven trainings to six organizations on the following topics: SB 203 Miranda Rights for Youth, Know Your Rights (youth interactions with law enforcement); Youth Justice Local Policy Advocacy, Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Power Mapping
  • Continuing to provide technical assistance to organizations in San Joaquin County to help build a youth justice coalition with infrastructure, clear goals, and a sustainability plan
  • Brought philanthropic investment to San Joaquin County to support the implementation of recently enacted youth justice laws and the development of a local youth justice coalition

 Next Steps 

In the next year, Alejandra plans to work with local partners to identify concrete, local policy and practice changes for advocacy through a strategic plan, provide trainings to systems stakeholders, and build sustainability plans alongside local partners to institutionalize long-term goals.


Morrison & Foerster Partners With Equal Justice Works To Support Recent Law School Graduates With A Passion For Public Service

The young people I have worked alongside showed me they are intelligent, creative, and have the ability to grow into powerful leaders for social change. By protecting them, we will help them live their full potential, transform our communities, and create healing opportunities for all the future generations to come.

Alejandra Gutierrez /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Alejandra

View All

Maya Dimant Lentz

Host: James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy

Sponsor: DLA Piper

Mani Nezami

Host: Earl Carl Institute

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Rachel Johnson-Farias

Host: East Bay Community Law Center

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Alicia Virani

Host: California Conference for Equality and Justice

Sponsor: Bingham McCutchen LLP