The Center for Criminal Justice at Oklahoma City University School of Law represents a unique partnership among the Oklahoma City University Law School, the Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office, and the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council. The Center for Criminal Justice is more than just a vision, it represents a commitment to advancing criminal justice reform in the State of Oklahoma and offers support to all advocates of criminal justice reform.
The Center for Criminal Justice provides an institutional home for comprehensive criminal justice reform at Oklahoma City University School of Law and will create a permanent and lasting environment to promote criminal justice reform in Oklahoma County, the State of Oklahoma, and nationally.
The Center for Criminal Justice also provides an experiential learning opportunity for law students who participate in its Bail and Bond Reform Clinic. Students in the clinic visit the jail, interview detainees, and identify candidates for pre-trial release. Students participate in the arraignment process where bail is determined, assess service needs of clients, file motions for clients to receive bail hearings, and advocate for those clients in the district court and through appeal, if necessary. Students in the Bail and Bond Reform Clinic assist individuals facing criminal misdemeanor charges and those at risk as a result of probation compliance issues by connecting them to services, working with prosecutors to develop plans for probation success, filing the appropriate motions with the court, and appearing in court to advocate for the reduction of fees and costs. This type of experiential learning forever changes the course of a defendant’s life and also provides students with practical lawyering experience.
The vision and hope for the Center for Criminal Justice is that it will provide on-going support for criminal justice education, advocacy, and action. As students explore alternatives to pre-trial detention, they will learn to proactively reinforce the presumption of innocence as a fundamental cornerstone of the criminal justice system. The Oklahoma City University School of Law and the Center for Criminal Justice remain thankful to its many generous donors, including the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation.