Public Defense Community Praises Athletes’ Actions Following Jacob Blake Shooting

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Release Date: 
Friday, August 28, 2020

Contact: Adam Plotkin, 608-264-8572, [email protected]; Rosalie Joy, 240-750-7318, [email protected]


Public Defense Community Praises Athletes’ Actions Following Jacob Blake Shooting


Jo-Ann Wallace, President and CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), and Kelli Thompson, Wisconsin State Public Defender and Chair of the NLADA Board of Directors, issued the following statement regarding the response by the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers players and staff to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha:

“The actions by the players underscore that the time for a change is now. Public defenders and defense attorneys nationwide have worked for years to call attention to the significant racial injustice of the criminal legal system, and now that message has been amplified through the platform provided by these athletes. We are thankful to have non-traditional partners talk about the negative impact criminal legal policies and practices can have on our most vulnerable families and communities.

“The action of the players shines a bright light on this and provides the opportunity for a concrete discussion focused on the perspective of clients through a race equity lens and others impacted by the criminal legal system. Reform must be driven by the experience of those who for decades have been trapped in a system designed not to provide true rehabilitation, but only to punish. We know from quantitative evidence that this approach does not make our communities safer and that using the criminal legal system as a mental health and substance abuse treatment system is guaranteed to fail our most vulnerable members of society.

“The conversation needs to start with the voices of impacted people and communities. Having only those who operate the criminal legal system influence the direction of policy and practice will only perpetuate a system that has failed our communities for decades. We are grateful to the players for taking action and moving the conversation forward.”


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association, founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels through the creation of our public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.