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Headshot of Cheyenne Blackburn

Cheyenne Blackburn

  • Hosted by United CORE Alliance
  • Sponsored by The Arnold & Porter Foundation
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Cheyenne (she/her/hers) leads legal efforts to promote economic stability for Black, Latino, and Indigenous individuals with arrest and conviction histories resulting from the Drug War, leveraging mass-scale record cleaning support, public education, and systems navigation to reduce the social and economic impact of the drug war in California, with a vision to scale statewide.

The War on Drugs disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities, driving mass incarceration and resource depletion. California’s evolving legal landscape offers economic protections for those with conviction histories: For example, The Fair Chance in Occupational Licensing Act (2020) prevents licensing boards from denying licensure based on expunged convictions and SB 731 (2022) broadens expungement eligibility. Despite these advancements benefiting over 1 million people, the associated legal costs—ranging from $900 to $1200 per conviction—pose barriers, with individuals facing potential debts of at least $4,800 for four convictions. With only 27% of low-income Californians receiving legal assistance, Cheyenne’s project aims to bridge this gap.

Fellowship Plans

Cheyenne will offer extensive legal aid throughout her Fellowship, facilitating mass-scale record cleaning by linking community organizations with pro bono attorneys. She’ll develop self-help materials for public education, focusing on Know Your Rights training, and provide systems navigation support, connecting clients with additional social services.

As a queer, Black woman, I draw from personal experience to advocate for marginalized communities impacted by the Drug War in California, committing my legal career to its end through advocacy.

Cheyenne Blackburn /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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