Institutions Project

The Institutions Project represents people confined in Washington's jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, mental health facilities, and facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Our representation focuses on institutional conditions of confinement, discrimination, sentencing and placement, alternatives to institutionalization, and access to courts, as well as issues related to rehabilitation, reentry, and reductions in recidivism.

The Institutions Project works to open doors to opportunity that allow people with criminal records to move on with their lives and contribute fully to our community and economy.

One example is our work highlighting and helping people overcome the burdens of Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) – the fees, fines, and costs imposed by the state's courts on top of criminal sentences. Read our joint report with the ACLU of Washington, "Modern-Day Debtors' Prisons" (PDF, 2014), which provides firsthand evidence of the impact LFOs have on Washington residents, their families, and our communities. Our work on LFOs is also featured in a blog post by CLS Attorney Nick Allen and in a CLS-produced video and media coverage of the report.

Another example is the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunities Act (CROP), a bill we helped develop that aims to remove barriers to occupational licenses for qualified applicants who have a criminal history. Find out more about CROP.

Read our Advocacy Headlines for more about our work.