Nirej Sekhon Wants us to Reimagine the Role of Police in Society
Nirej Sekhon still remembers his last case working as a public defender in Seattle. A man was charged with theft for stealing a $2 burrito from a convenience store. The man had prior convictions, so the plea recommendation was one year in jail. Sekhon’s client readily admitted taking the burrito, but he didn’t think he should have to go to jail for a year for being hungry.
That case among many others like it, made Sekhon think about how the society often criminalizes rather than ameliorates poverty. It also made him think about the role that attorneys can play in connecting unfair practices to larger questions of systemic inequality and public perceptions of injustice.
“Public defenders have this potentially significant role to play in transforming the criminal justice system,” Sekhon says.