Photo of Caroline Cohn

Caroline Cohn

  • Hosted by National Consumer Law Center
  • Sponsored by NIKE
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Stanford Law School
  • Issue area Consumer Rights, Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Caroline (she/her/hers) will use consumer protection laws to advocate on behalf of low-income individuals affected by the criminal legal system through direct representation, education, and policy reform.

Fines, fees, and criminal justice debt exacerbate the harms of involvement with the criminal legal system. Courts impose monetary sanctions for the vast majority of criminal convictions, which, even for minor offenses, can amount to thousands of dollars due to late fees and interest. Individuals and their families are also preyed upon by private actors who profit off of the criminal legal system, including bail agents, prison telecommunications providers, and criminal background screening companies, many of which perform background checks inaccurately or unlawfully. These harmful practices disproportionately impact people of color and impede individualsā€™ abilities to secure housing, obtain employment, and build wealth.

Caroline is motivated to join theĀ National Consumer Law Center’s team as a Fellow so that she can harness consumer law as one means of addressing the deep and varied harms propagated by the criminal legal system.

Fellowship Plans

Caroline will use consumer law to advocate on behalf of low-income individuals harmed by the criminal legal system. She will represent individuals who have been injured by criminal background screening companies that unlawfully report their criminal records to prospective landlords and employers. She will also develop litigation materials to help legal services providers more effectively advocate on behalf of clients with these kinds of claims. Additionally, she will advocate for policy reform and produce a report on fines and fees associated with alternative forms of punishment, such as electronic monitoring.

Interning with the National Consumer Law Center exposed me to the ways predatory financial interests lengthen and compound criminal-system involvement for already-marginalized individuals and their loved ones.

Caroline Cohn /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Caroline

View All

LaTri-c-ea McClendon-Hunt

Host: Rhode Island Legal Services

Naomi Young

Naomi Young

Host: Her Justice

Sponsor: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Photo of Eva Sikes

Eva Sikes

Host: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Xinmia Malave

Host: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida

Sponsor: Anonymous