CHICAGO – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with faculty, staff, and students at the University of Chicago Law School’s Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC), the nation’s first legal clinic devoted to representing indigent clients charged with federal felonies.
During the meeting, Durbin discussed a broad range of topics aimed at ensuring a fair system of justice for all, including the FCJC’s Freedom Denied report, the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act, and continued efforts to advance the goals of the bipartisan First Step Act.
“It was a pleasure to meet with faculty and students at FCJC today. As we continue to reform our criminal justice system to prioritize rehabilitation over retribution through evidence-based practices, it’s crucial that the research and mentorship of legal clinics like FCJC continue to have the support and resources that they need. I remain committed to reducing our system’s overreliance on incarceration, mitigating the tragic racial disparities plaguing the system, and protecting civil rights of all Americans, including people in custody. Thank you to Professor Siegler, Dean Miles, Vice President Beverly, and all of the aspiring attorneys for the opportunity to join you today,” said Durbin.
“My Federal Criminal Justice Clinic was thrilled to welcome Senator Durbin to the University of Chicago Law School today to discuss solutions to our federal criminal system’s overreliance on pretrial jailing. We applaud Senator Durbin for focusing on evidence-based solutions for the federal jailing crisis that protect our communities. One such solution is the Senator’s bipartisan bill—the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act of 2023—which would eliminate the presumption of detention in federal drug cases. The bill not only safeguards the fundamental right to liberty but would also improve public safety and significantly reduce racial disparities,” said Professor Alison Siegler, Founding Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic.
Photos of the meeting are available here.