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State Criminal Justice Network

NACDL’s unique State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) provides a medium to exchange information, share resources, and develop strategies for promoting rational and humane criminal justice policies. In addition, it seeks to educate the general public about the many issues that influence, and policies that affect the criminal justice system. As a result, SCJN’s listserv does not require membership in the organization.

To join the network, please send a message with your full contact information to

About the Network  COVID-19 & State Legislatures  Initiatives & Projects  Other SCJN Resources 
SCJN Conference


What is the NACDL State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN)?

The day to day work of state level criminal justice reform is supported by committed individuals and organizations including lawyers, judges, advocates, formerly incarcerated individuals, policymakers (on both sides of the aisle), and even district attorneys and members of the law enforcement community.  The State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) is represented by just a few of these entities including representatives from NACDL state affiliates, affiliate lobbyists, public defenders, advocates and individuals, working to promote progressive criminal justice reform in their jurisdictions. 

Through the SCJN, NACDL seeks to:

  • Facilitate communication on substantive issues and advocacy strategies among legislative contacts across the country;
  • Create national momentum and attention to high-priority criminal justice reform initiatives; and
  • Provide resources and support to members, affiliate organizations and partners in the form of legislative action alerts, legislative tracking, model legislation, news updates, events, and more!

We encourage participants to fully engage in the listserve in order to receive the full benefits of its membership. Want to know what other state laws have been enacted? Post questions, share events and job opportunities, and gain valuable insight from fellow state criminal justice advocates. A newsletter is disseminated monthly to provide a snapshot of NACDL’s state criminal justice priorities.

More on the State Criminal Justice Network

To join the network, please send a message with your full contact information to

COVID-19 and State Legislatures

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted state legislative sessions across the country, with many states adjourning early, suspending sessions, and postponing sessions. Legislative agendas have been upended as focus sharply turns to the current public health emergency, although a limited number of states are continuing to move legislation and sign bills into law. For up-to-date information on each state, check out NCSL's interactive map, updated daily by 4pm.

Continue reading below

Coronavirus Resources

NACDL to Focus on Service and Support for Members, Clients, and Community Throughout Virus Emergency

Learn More


NACDL Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference: Every year, NACDL brings together advocates from around the country for our annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference. This conference offers participants the opportunity to hear from experts on state criminal justice reform and the opportunity to network of like-minded advocates. The 2020 State Criminal Justice Network Conference, which was held as a live virtual event, took place August 17-19.  

More on SCJN Conference 2020 Conference Agenda

Race and the Criminal Justice System Webinar Series: NACDL worked with sociologists Angela Hattery and Earl Smith, co-authors of Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Changeto produce a webinar series on race in the criminal justice system. The first Policing Black Bodies webinar examined the ways in which the chattel slavery system of America’s early history manifests itself in the variety of ways in which Black people are literally and symbolically policed today. Policing Black Bodies II: Race and Pretrial Practices looked at the connections between the United State's racial history and its current status as the world's leading jailer. The series featured panelists Cherise Fanno Burdeen Burdeen and Vincent Southerland, with moderator Robert Patillo. 

Webinar Recordings and Related Materials

Looking Forward: Modern Strategies for Prosecution & Defense was a three-part webinar series presented by NACDL and co-sponsored by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) on July 8th and 9th. Defenders, prosecutors, and community stakeholders discussed the rising trend in “progressive prosecutors” - the changes to be implemented in prosecution, challenges and opportunities for defenders, and how community stakeholders can hold their elected officials accountable.

Webinar Recordings and Related Materials

Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award: The NACDL Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award recognizes an individual or group whose exceptional efforts have led to positive changes to reform a state criminal justice system. The award is presented at the annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference.

Award Nomination Guidelines and Past Recipients 

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Our 2020 award recipient is Phil Cherner. In his primary practice of criminal defense, Phil tirelessly advocated for the repeal of the death penalty by serving as lead counsel on a death penalty post-conviction case and being a part of several other trial teams. In addition to defending his accused clients, he worked with the families of victims who were opposed to the death penalty by keeping them involved in legislative hearings and offering support throughout the emotional process. He joined the board of Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CADP) in 2010 where he helped bring a broad coalition of advocates together to work toward the repeal of the death penalty. Once Phil Cherner retired from the Denver office of Vicente Sederberg, LLC in 2017, he committed most of his time to chairing the board of CADP. In March of this year, Colorado became the 22nd state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to abolish or overturn the death penalty.

Watch the Award Presentation

SCJN National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation: These teleconferences feature an expert on an issue area and are designed to educate criminal defense lawyers and advocates across the country on a variety of criminal justice issues. 

Listen to National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation

SCJN Electronic Newsletter: This monthly newsletter features a snapshot of NACDL's state crminal justice priorities, as well as, recent internal and external criminal justice reports, information on upcoming events, webinars, current state legislative reform efforts, legislative tracking, action alerts and more!

SCJN Newsletter


Other SCJN Resources

State Legislative Tracking: View state criminal justice legislation in all 50 states and Washington, DC that NACDL is currently tracking!

NACDL's Legislative Action Center: Check out NACDL's Legislative Action Center to find and contact your legislators, take part in NACDL's advocacy campaigns, and sign-up for legislative alerts

NACDL Legislative Action Center

NACDL's Advocacy Resource Center: Find advocacy tools, guides, and services to get in contact and build relationships with your elected officials.

Grassroots Mobilization

NACDL State Advocacy Resources: See how NACDL can assist you in your legislative and advocacy efforts!

State Advocacy Resources

Reports: A compilation of reports which focus on state-level policies across the country.

State Level Reports