Speaker: Blake Strode, Executive Director, ArchCity Defenders
Our current abusive criminal legal system is devastating poor and black people in our region. Blake Strode describes how we can and must think differently about public safety and re-envision the legal system’s role in promoting community well-being.
Blake Strode is the executive director of ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit civil rights law firm in St. Louis, Missouri. The firm’s legal advocacy focuses on combatting the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color. Strode joined ArchCity following his graduation from Harvard Law School in 2015. He helped establish ArchCity’s Civil Rights Litigation unit, which has brought challenges to a variety of unlawful and predatory practices, including debtors' prisons, police misconduct, and inhumane jail conditions. The firm has filed more than 30 civil rights cases in state and federal court, impacting more than 40,000 people in the St. Louis region. Strode played a significant role in the landmark class-action debtors' prison case against the City of Jennings, Missouri, which provides a blueprint for permanent legal reform in the region's courts. A frequent speaker at conferences across the country, Strode has also written extensively on legal reform. His publications include columns in the "St. Louis American" and the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" and an article in "The Atlantic" magazine.