Justice Advocacy Project

The Stanford Justice Advocacy Project (formerly the Three Strikes Project) represents individuals serving unjust prison sentences for minor crimes, assists prisoners successfully reentering their communities, and advocates for fairer and more effective criminal justice policies in California and across the country. The Project is staffed by Stanford Law students and supervising attorneys and works in coordination with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on numerous projects, including the enactment and implementation successful ballot measures reforming California’s criminal sentencing laws, the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Proposition 36) and the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014 (Proposition 47).

Experiential Learning


Law students participate in all aspects of our work. Students may apply for enrollment in a seminar that covers the history of criminal sentencing policy in California, advanced criminal procedure and post-conviction litigation strategies. Participating students are responsible for maintaining relationships with our clients in prison and drafting court pleadings on their behalf. Students also help analyze, propose, advocate for, and implement long-term legislative and regulatory reforms.

Litigation & Reentry

Justice Advocacy Project 9

We represent inmates serving unnecessary and unjust prison sentences. We have successfully litigated the release of over 100 clients, many of whom had been serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes under “Three Strikes and You’re Out” laws. We are also actively involved in prisoners’ lives once they are released from custody, helping provide services and programs that assist the process of returning home and reentering communities.

Policy Analysis & Reform

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We study and work to reform criminal laws and policies to advance a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. In partnership with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, we have led successful statewide ballot measures in California resulting in the release of thousands of unjustly incarcerated inmates. We also partner with state and federal government and law enforcement officials, civil rights advocates and other reform leaders to study what works (and doesn’t work) in the criminal justice system and advocate for a broad array of legislative and regulatory improvements, including sentencing reforms, improved treatment of mentally ill offenders and better services for former prisoners reentering their communities.

Publications and Reports

Law & Policy Lab 1
Proposition 47 Progress Report: Year One Implementation read more
Law & Policy Lab 1
When Did Prisons Become Acceptable Mental Healthcare Facilities? read more
Law & Policy Lab 1
Proposition 36 Progress Report: Over 1,500 Prisoners Released; Historically Low Recidivism Rate read more
Law & Policy Lab 1
Progress Report: Three Strikes Reform (Proposition 36); 1,000 Prisoners Released read more

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In the News

Roby So (left) and Carlos Cervantes in Pomona, Calif. Credit Damon Casarez for The New York Times

Featured in the New York Times

Thousands of inmates are released from prison every day with nowhere to go and no family or friends who can support them. The Project’s “Ride Home” team meets released inmates at the prison gates, helps them navigate their first hours and days of freedom and transports them to a pre-approved residential reentry program.

New York Times Magazine