Public Counsel and partner Disability Rights Advocates have filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking an end to solitary confinement and the denial of appropriate education for youth with disabilities in Contra Costa County, California’s juvenile justice program.
The lawsuit alleges that Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall locks young people with disabilities in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, all the while depriving them of education.
According to the lawsuit, young people are routinely locked for days and weeks at a time in cells that have barely enough room for a bed and only a narrow window the width of an arm.
The legal fees and trial costs are being fundraised for on CrowdDefend, a new crowdfunding platform for the legal space. The campaign can be accessed at https://crowddefend.com/campaign/search/
The CrowdDefend platform seeks to expand access to justice for individuals, organizations, and businesses that can’t otherwise afford to pay for legal representation, court fees, and associated trial costs. CrowdDefend launches its service to the public this week.
Unlike in criminal cases, in civil disputes there is no guarantee of legal representation. While publicly and privately funded legal aid services can offer advice and representation to those that can’t afford an attorney out-of-pocket, the funding for these organizations is extremely restricted.
This leaves millions of Americans without adequate representation for legal issues that have far reaching personal and professional consequences. Furthermore, since financing can be the key to a successful lawsuit, parties with outsized resources can come into a legal dispute with an unfair advantage. In more politically charged cases, special interest can exert its influence through backdoor financial support.
“CrowdDefend’s mission is to even the playing field for ordinary citizens by giving them the tools to share their stories and raise funds from a community of legal advocates,” says founder and CEO, Hiraa Khan.
Hiraa, who was formerly on the Patent Licensing and Acquisition team at Google Inc, says CrowdDefend is inspired, among other things, by the three-years she spent on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. “At CrowdDefend we believe that promoting access to justice is a collective responsibility. Through our platform we hope to not only increase access to the courts, but also create more awareness about the justice gap in this country.”