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Faith Barksdale

  • Hosted by The Innocence Project
  • Sponsored by Ropes & Gray LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Faith will drive reform of prosecutorial oversight in targeted jurisdictions nationwide, by holding prosecutors accountable for misconduct and adopting best practices to prevent wrongful convictions. 

The cumulative effect of prosecutorial misconduct is difficult to quantify because prosecutorial oversight is drastically under-enforced and understudied. Prosecutors have the greatest role in charging decisions, and this project will help—and incentivize—them to develop more sound and scientifically robust guidelines for criminal justice reform. This project provides direct legal assistance to victims of prosecutorial misconduct and drives systemic prosecutorial reform through legislative advocacy and policy collaboration.  

Through exposure to social justice advocacy in many different capacities over the course of her careerFaith has come to believe that the criminal legal system is the nexus of social inequality. Given the paramount role that prosecutors play within the criminal legal system, reshaping the work of prosecutors’ offices is one of the most effective means of criminal legal reform. 

Fellowship Highlights to Date

So far during the Fellowship, Faith has:

  • Connected with dozens of stakeholders for input into policy compendium
  • Created 3 fact sheets and policy memoranda about essential aspects of prosecutorial reform
  • Contributed to an amicus letter submitted in the Massachusetts lawsuit, Graham v. District Attorney for Hampden County, addressing the vital role of prosecutors in rectifying the consequences of police misconduct benefiting 25 individuals
  • Delivered guest lectures in a college forensic anthropology class discussing the politicization of forensic science

Next Steps

In the next six months, Faith plans to:

  • Initiate a strategically novel lawsuit addressing acts of prosecutorial misconduct that led to a wrongful conviction
  • Complete the model policy compendium and disseminate it as an advocacy tool
  • Draft additional amicus briefs in cases involving prosecutorial misconduct
  • Produce media advocating for policy reforms, and shedding light on the consequences of absolute immunity

Reshaping the work of prosecutors’ offices is one of the most effective means of criminal legal reform.

Faith Barksdale /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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