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Headshot of Alexis Picard

Alexis Picard

  • Hosted by Roger Baldwin Foundation of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
  • Sponsored by Ropes & Gray LLP
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Alexis (she/her) plans to use strategic litigation and a public education campaign to reform rural Illinois juvenile detention centers on behalf of youth held in unconstitutional and non-rehabilitative conditions.

During the pretrial stage of a criminal case, youth have the right to be presumed innocent and may not be punished while awaiting trial. However, youth in Illinois are routinely confined in small cells for 23 hours a day, multiple days a week, without adequate medical or mental health care or educational services.

Being detained as a child is a life-altering experience that can have long-term negative effects, including an increased risk of adult incarceration, substance abuse, and psychiatric disorders. This is particularly true for Black youth, who are overrepresented in the Illinois juvenile justice system.

Alexis’ commitment to fighting for much-needed change in Illinois juvenile detention centers stems from her own multi-racial and multi-cultural family, which has also motivated her to join the fight to end racism in the criminal legal system and mass incarceration.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Alexis will work with attorneys from the ACLU of Illinois’ Corrections Reform Project—among other juvenile justice allies and advocates—to file lawsuits against some of the most egregious juvenile detention centers in Illinois.

Alexis will seek input from system-impacted youth, their families, and other community-based organizations to ensure her litigation strategies meet community needs and complement other advocacy efforts. Beyond the courtroom, she will also use non-litigation strategies, such as a public education campaign, to inform the public, press, and political stakeholders about the conditions in these facilities.

Reforms to juvenile incarceration practices, which are excessively punitive and dehumanizing, are desperately needed. I’m committed to working with juvenile justice advocates, system-impacted children, and their families to ensure that children are afforded their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Alexis Picard /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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