The Criminal Law Association was established by students in September 2010 to educate and inform members and the Vanderbilt Law community about issues surrounding criminal law, criminal procedure and the justice system at the state, federal and international levels. Christopher Slobogin is the organization's faculty advisor, and the 2016-17 president is Jessica Haushalter .
Students for Innocence and Prisoner Rights was established by students in July 2015 to explore issues surrounding claims of actual innocence, wrongful prosecutions and convictions, and prisoner conditions and treatment (although it does not initiate litigation). Christopher Slobogin is the organization's faculty advisor, and the 2016-17 president is Reity O'Brien .
Additionally, Students for Innocence and Prisoner Rights works with local advocates to connect Vanderbilt students to law-related service opportunities. Such projects include compiling a directory for families of incarcerated persons in Tennessee, analyzing data related to effective life sentences for juveniles and state parole board decisions, interviewing the family members of individuals who may be experiencing rights violations in prison, and lobbying state legislators on issues of parole and sentencing reform.
The Criminal Law Association and Students for Innocence and Prisoner Rights have brought informational speakers to campus to introduce various aspects of criminal law with students. These engagements, often lunch events, have included wrongly convicted exonerees sharing their experiences with the criminal justice system; panels of local criminal lawyers, including federal and state defense and prosecution attorneys, to advise students as to their daily activities and pathways into the field; and a high-profile federal defendant, prosecuted by the Department of Justice, who was acquitted on charges of bribery and fraud. Engagements sponsored by each organization are enlightening and invite students to consider new perspectives to view issues in criminal law.
See Activities for fuller descriptions of recent events.