NLADA hosted the annual COD summer conference on June 14th and 15th.  Practitioners, including clients, from across the U.S. gathered virtually to share new strategies and galvanize efforts to dismantle racism in the criminal legal system.  The conference theme, Reckon & Rise, was a call to action to reckon with the discrimination and disparate treatment of Black and Brown people.  It was a rally of sorts to galvanize the defense community and energize them to keep fighting for long-overdue reforms. Former clients who now lead their own advocacy initiatives, work in public defender offices as investigators, client advocates, lawyers, and peer navigators attended the conference and shared their insights and expertise with the community.   

NLADA Board member and current Client Council Chair, Ronald Simpson Bey, led the closing plenary in discussion with other voices of lived experience.  Ronald was joined by Dr. Grace Gamez, American Friends Service Committee in Arizona, Saad Soliman, Peace by Peace, Inc., and Ashley Golden, DSW candidate and JustLeadership Fellow, who all provided salient words of wisdom for the defense community.  In the words of Ronald, “the voices of those closest to the problem and the solutions” were on stage to share their stories and sage advice about relying on people who have survived the criminal legal system to inform, influence, and drive needed reforms.  A recording of this inspirational presentation is available for review on NLADA’s Facebook page.