Civil Rights

CJP conducts systemic civil rights litigation across practice areas, including protecting the rights of prisoners, students, and other groups.  Some cases include the following:

School District in Central PA:

In March of 2022, CJP filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on behalf of a female African-American middle school student, who had been subjected to serious and repeated racial harassment by several different white middle school classmates throughout the school year.  This harassment was reported to the middle school principal by the girl’s parents, but the district did little or nothing to stop the ongoing harassment or to address in any systemic way the racially hostile environment that has been festering in the school.

In the complaint, CJP seeks individual relief for our client, as well as district-wide systemic relief to address what has clearly become a racially hostile environment in the district.  With permission from OCR, CJP recently negotiated a “Safety Plan” for our client with the school district, intended to prevent recurrence of the kind of incidents that happened in the past school year, including placing our client in separate classes and buses from her aggressors, and providing for weekly check-ins and other supports for our client via school officials with whom she has a trusting relationship.

Stradford et al. v. Wetzel:

With the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, CJP challenged the exclusion of sex offenders, who have been granted parole but denied correctional institution release, from state owned or operated halfway house occupancy, based on the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. At the time of filing, there were approximately 1,000 individuals being denied release on parole, and most halfway houses were being allowed to deny admission due to actual or perceived opposition in the community.

Following a Third Circuit reversal and remand of an earlier dismissal, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.  The District Court then denied a stay pending appeal, resulting in much, if not all, of the relief we sought being obtained.  On further appeal, a differently constituted Third Circuit panel reversed and remanded, but nevertheless, this case achieved most of the relief sought.