Bailey Russell

  • Hosted by Mwalimu Center for Justice
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Law school University of Washington School of Law
  • Issue area Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Bailey seeks to empower vulnerable communities of color to resist capital punishment convictions in the Greater New Orleans Area.

People are being sentenced to death at an alarming rate in Louisiana—specifically African Americans. A steady rate of capital convictions persists, despite the current stay on executions in the state. Once convicted, the majority of individuals have little post-conviction legal assistance available to them, and many are unaware of the resources that do exist. Additionally, many of these capital defendants are black or people of color (POC) and indigent. Vulnerable communities can resist the school to capital punishment pipeline and fight back against capital convictions when they understand the inner workings of Louisiana’s racially targeted capital punishment system.

Bailey’s internship working on Louisiana’s Death Row exposed her to the humanity of those awaiting execution. Her Haitian roots, mixed with her dedication to equity for black and POC communities, inspire her to do this work.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Bailey has:

  • Directly representing two clients on post-conviction capital appeal cases. Bailey met with both clients and was the first attorney either of them had spoken to in person since the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Created a comprehensive report for an expert questionnaire.
  • Argued motions in front of the Court for one of her cases.

Next Steps

In the next six months, Bailey plans to:

  • Connect with local organizations to obtain data relevant to the research portion of her project.
  • Organize data and create an infographic and digital/hardcopy pamphlet with information on the post-conviction process, statistics of who ends up on Louisiana’s Death Row, and resources for families caught in the capital carceral system.
  • Take on a new client case in 2022.
  • Create a list of organizations to distribute pamphlets and infographics too.

Media

Fighting for My Clients’ Right to Life

I found something I didn’t know was lost—community. My community. My community encompasses the black, brown, and queer POC of New Orleans. These communities enveloped me in their love, strength and pain. I want to return the embrace by sharing the tools involved in dismantling the systematic oppression that they battle every day. This fellowship allows me to do that.

Bailey Russell /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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