Andrea Woods

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union Criminal Law Reform Project
  • Sponsored by Intellectual Ventures, The Ottinger Foundation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school University of Washington School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Andrea advocated for badly-needed bail reform throughout the United States, urging lawmakers to replace unnecessary dependence on pretrial detention with smart solutions to incarceration, and vindicating the rights of poor people accused of crimes. Her work has potentially impacted over 100,000 people abused by our country’s racially and economically biased pretrial justice systems.

The deprivation of constitutional rights in the pretrial context causes widespread individual and community harm. Among the most egregious harms is the unwarranted, often unlawful deprivation of liberty of poor people accused of crimes. Pretrial detention is a key driver in overincarceration: 70 percent of those jailed in the U.S., nearly half a million people, are awaiting trial. Controlling for other factors, pretrial detention is the greatest predictor of a conviction; upon conviction, those jailed pretrial tend to receive longer sentences than those released; and upon release, people who had been jailed pretrial are more likely to recidivate.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Andrea has:

  • Filed litigation in the Southern District of Georgia that has facilitated the speedy pretrial release of hundreds of people in a target jurisdiction;
  • Represented the ACLU’s clients in three additional federal class action lawsuits;
  • Authored national pretrial reform strategy for the ACLU, and in so doing hosted a 60-person convening of interdisciplinary experts to discuss race, algorithmic prediction, and fairness principles;
  • Consulted with criminal justice advocates in approximately 40 states, reviewing legislation, drafting legislative language, and providing legislative reform recommendations;
  • Authored seven amicus briefs advancing the constitutional rights of pretrial arrestees

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Andrea plans to:

  • Stay on as a staff attorney with the National ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project;
  • Continue to litigate four civil rights cases seeking preliminary injunctions or final judgements to vindicate the rights of arrestees and identify smarter solutions to money bail
  •  Through ongoing litigation and consultation, advance bail reform efforts as part of a broader mission to end mass incarceration and racial disparities.

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