Having the opportunity to work on behalf of others while still a student was the most meaningful part of my legal education at UW.
— Jake Operskalski, J.D.

About the Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic

The Race and Justice Clinic works to disrupt the systemic over-representation of youth of color in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems through direct representation and systemic advocacy. Clinic students advocate for young people who are pushed out of school, given extreme sentences and stigmatized by juvenile criminal history records. The Race and Justice Clinic strives to center the voices and stories of youth and their communities to seek innovative solutions.


Representing youth directly

Clinic students have represented youth before the Clemency and Pardons Board, in first appearance hearings, records sealing motions, motions to modify legal financial obligations, school discipline hearings and early release hearings before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.

Providing community education

Examples include conducting workshops for youth in detention, collaborating with incarcerated youth to train public defenders, presenting youth voices to the Washington Supreme Court and educating community members about the harms of jailing youth.

Conducting collaborative research to spark change

Examples include partnering with a youth organization to draft Police in Schools: Student Perceptions of School Resource Officers and drafting an amicus brief filed in the Washington Supreme Court; and partnering with high school students to advocate for curriculum that addresses their cultural history.

Race and Justice Clinic News

The Antidote to Powerlessness Racial Bias Harms Regardless of Intent Race and Justice Clinic fights for systemic bail reform amid COVID-19 Race and Justice Clinic students fight extreme sentences for youth of color