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Why Raj Jayadev is helping Philly’s criminal justice system adopt participatory defense

November 21, 2018, Grace Shallow - Generocity

Albert Cobarrubias was the first homicide of 2010 in San Jose, California. But Raj Jayadev remembers the young man as more than a grave statistic.

Cobarrubias, who had just graduated from San Jose State University, aspired to be a lawyer for the under-served. He was also volunteering with Silicon Valley De-Bug, a grassroots advocacy and storytelling nonprofit that Jayadev co-founded.

So Jayadev honored him by creating the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP), San Jose’s hub for participatory defense, a model that connects community members with the criminal justice system in hopes of better advocacy for people facing a judge.

He said the supporters of defendants “have been regulated to be on the sidelines” of the court system and can feel powerless.

“Participatory defense essentially tries to make the family an extension of the defense team, a source of information and power for what is almost always a public defender,” said Jayadev, a 2018-2021 Stoneleigh Fellow with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and recently named MacArthur Fellow (or “Genius”). He has become a well-recognized voice in criminal justice reform and has also been a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2015 Leading Edge Fellow and 2017 Stanford Entrepreneur in Residence Fellow.

Read more about Raj's efforts on Generocity!

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