Haley Pritchard L’20 is a Langer, Grogan, & Diver Legal Fellow with the Pennsylvania ACLU, working to reduce pretrial and probation-related incarceration in Pennsylvania by challenging unaffordable bail and the probation detainer system.
Q: Tell us about your fellowship, including where you’re working, the problems that you’re responding to, and the goals of your project.
A: My fellowship at the ACLU of Pennsylvania is focused primarily on combatting pretrial and probation-related incarceration through litigation and other forms of advocacy. The majority of people held in our jails have actually not yet been sentenced, despite the presumption of innocence, and people are often detained simply because they are too poor to pay the cash bail assigned. People on probation can end up detained for any alleged violation of the conditions of their probation, no matter how minor. We know that such incarceration is harmful to individuals, separates families, and disrupts communities – and can have drastic consequences like losing a home, job, or even custody of children. We also know that the system is deeply racist and classist, and that Black, Brown and poor communities bear the brunt of these injustices.
I have helped develop several pieces of impact litigation, worked in coalition with other Pennsylvania organizations, and contributed to legislative advocacy in order to help combat these problems.
Q: How did your experiences before and during law school lead you to this project or public interest generally?
A: During college I worked at a policy center in my hometown focused on girls caught up in the juvenile justice system or in danger of becoming caught up in the system through exclusionary discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline. During law school I was a Direct Services Fellow with the Youth Advocacy Project and I participated in the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, where I worked on appellate briefs related to bail, costs, and fines in the criminal legal system. All of these experiences prepared me for my current work at the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
Q: Thus far, what accomplishment during your fellowship are you most proud of?
A: One of the major projects I’ve worked on over the past year is “More Law, Less Justice,” a report highlighting the role the Pennsylvania legislature plays in creating and perpetuating mass incarceration. The report explains that legislators continue to expand the scope of criminalized behavior in Pennsylvania and consistently create duplicative criminal offenses, giving prosecutors the power to over-charge individuals and so coerce guilty pleas. Legislators also continue to increase criminal penalties and make sentences more punitive, so that community members stay behind bars longer.
I am proud of this project because I hope that it will help legislators understand the harm they are causing and give the public one more tool to help hold their elected officials accountable.