Freedom from Violence is the First of All Human Rights

Our Goal: Freedom from State and Neighborhood Violence

We believe that criminal violence is so closely tied to the violence of policing and incarceration that one cannot be treated without addressing the other. 

We learned this lesson working with teenagers who had to walk through different neighborhoods to get home from school. They describe being "pocket checked" by youth from other neighborhoods, where they are forced to empty their pockets and give up any valuable items they have. Then, when they make it to their own neighborhood, they are stopped and frisked by the police as part of what the police call "gang suppression." These repeated humiliations lead to a "me against the world" attitude that perpetuates vicious cycles of violence and mistrust. 

To bring about true peace and justice, we must recognize and address both the violence in our communities and the violence within the criminal legal system. The Peace and Justice Law Center in Orange County, California works to do exactly that. By working together, we can create safer and more equitable Orange County for all.

Our Approach: Movement Lawyering

Movement lawyering brings attorneys together with organizers to connect street-corners, city halls, courtrooms, and capital buildings to create long-lasting change. Movement lawyering puts the power of the legal system into the hands of impacted people and communities.

The Peace and Justice Law Center's movement lawyering practice encompasses a wide range of strategies to drive reform, including direct legal services, impact litigation, policy development and implementation, and community education and mobilization. We provide individuals and organizations with the legal support they need while also taking on broader issues that impact entire communities. Our team works closely with local movement-building organizations to advance policy initiatives, participates in coalitions to achieve shared goals, and provides critical resources like legal self-defense training and support for neighborhood peace initiatives.

Our Values

We value safety AND justice 

We believe that public safety and human rights go hand in hand. The more law enforcement is fair and equitable, the more effective it is. The safer a community feels, the more it will support criminal justice reforms

We value movement leadership

At the heart of sustainable peace and justice is the leadership of those who have been impacted by the violence in our communities and the violence within the criminal legal system. We support the efforts of community-based organizations and leaders who are working to bring about lasting change. 

We value people

We reject the dehumanization and racism that is all too prevalent in discussions of crime, violence, policing, and gangs. We acknowledge that systemic discrimination and oppression affect different communities in different ways, and it is our mission to promote dignity, respect, and equality for all. 

“We must widen the circle of Kinship. We imagine no one standing outside of the circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.” 

-Gregory Boyle, S.J.