Miscarriages of justice usually don’t stem from individual actors alone; injustice is enabled – sometimes even encouraged – by institutional policies and procedures. Whether by design or by disregard, whether by formal policy or unwritten custom, an institution’s power to warp justice is immense.
Overturning decades of institutional injustice is no easy task, but meaningful reform is possible. The MacArthur Justice Center is committed to pursuing legal action against law enforcement entities with policies and practices that harm the communities they intend to serve.
Challenging Chicago's Racist & Inaccurate Gang Database
We represent the Chicagoans for an End to the Gang Database, a coalition of individuals and community organizations, suing the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department (CPD) over the CPD’s unconstitutional Gang Database, which police officers use to disproportionately target, criminalize and punish Black and Latinx individuals.
The CPD has unlimited discretion to add names to the Gang Database – there are no consistent guidelines or approval requirements. As a result, the information is often irregular, inaccurate and outdated. Once included in the Database, individuals in the Database have no due process protections, including any way to challenge the designation.
In addition to using this information to harass and falsely detain people, CPD provides this incorrect, inconsistent Database to third parties, including U.S. Immigrations and Customs (ICE). As a result, the false gang designations can affect an individual’s ability to get employment, licenses, bond, parole, housing, immigration relief, and more.
Chicagoans for an End to the Gang Database v. City of Chicago
The MacArthur Justice Center represents the Chicagoans for an End to the Gang Database, a coalition of individuals and community organizations, in a federal class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department (CPD) targeting the widespread use of an inaccurate, racially discriminatory Gang Database.
Prosecuting the Prosecutors
District Attorneys have tremendous power in our criminal justice system. After a person is arrested, prosecutors make the decision whether to bring formal charges, and which crimes will be alleged in the charge or indictment. In many jurisdictions, prosecutors direct or consult in the investigation of crime. Once the case is in court, prosecutors determine what evidence is disclosed to the defendant. And at trial, they use “peremptory challenges” to strike qualified citizens from jury service. These powers can be misused to oppress men and women of color and people in poverty. Our litigation prosecutes the prosecutors for these abuses of power.