About Us

The Berkeley Criminal Law & Justice Center is a hub for research, education and advocacy. Blending a data-driven approach with zealous advocacy, the center offers empirical insights into the intricacies of the legal system and policy outcomes.

Large audience in auditorium
CLJC’s inaugural event with Angela Davis drew a packed house.

We harness the wealth of perspectives, experiences and expertise that our students and faculty bring to the table. The center strives to empower marginalized communities and impacted individuals and is dedicated to closing the gap between ideals of justice and the realities faced by crime and incarceration.

Serving as a collaborative hub for advocacy and reform, the center uplifts the voices of formerly incarcerated individuals and reform movement leaders, enriches law school curriculum with criminal justice offerings, fosters research collaboration, and works to connect scholars with real-world practitioners. Energizing these efforts, we conduct research and provide recommendations for policy, legislative initiatives, pilot programs and litigation coalitions to assist in dislodging structural inequities and transforming the criminal justice landscape. We organize conferences and publish legal briefs and policy papers to engage stakeholders, promote dialogue and catalyze change.


Executive Director

Chesa Boudin

“I wanted a job that draws on three personal and professional experiences that have been defining for me: a lifetime of direct experience with my biological parents spending 62 combined years in prison, my career as a public defender doing direct service work through individual client representation where I saw the everyday injustices of our so-called justice system, and my time in elected office where I focused on broader system change.”
—Chesa Boudin

chesa boudin

Chesa Boudin is the founding executive director of Berkeley’s Criminal Law & Justice Center. He served as San Francisco’s elected district attorney from 2020 until his recall in 2022. During that time, Boudin implemented bold reforms to ensure that the criminal legal system delivered safety and justice for all San Franciscans. His achievements include a significant expansion of the office’s victim services’ division; eliminating prosecutors’ use of money bail; prosecuting police for excessive force; suing the manufacturers of ghost guns; expanding diversion to address root causes of crime; and a historic reduction in incarceration. During his time in office both violent and non-violent crime fell by double digits. Prior to his election Boudin clerked for two federal judges and worked for years as a deputy public defender in San Francisco. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. His biological parents spent a combined 62 years in prison starting when he was a baby.

Boudin’s work has appeared or been profiled in The Yale Law Journal, The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, and many more.

View our Faculty Advisory Board here.