Brenita Softley’s desire to advocate for the most marginalized in society led her to the School of Law at the University of Alabama, where she began exploring criminal defense work through multiple internships.
Working with a Public Defender, she saw up-close the glaring connections between poverty and the criminal “justice” system. At the Children’s Rights Clinic, she saw how the school to prison pipeline continues to target people in poverty, especially in communities of color. At the Southern Center for Human Rights, she worked on capital cases where racial bias and systemic injustice send people of color to death row even when they are innocent. And at Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, she was able to work exclusively on justice system reform in Alabama, with particular emphasis on racial justice and systemic racism in laws and policies, on economic justice and the criminalization of poverty, as well as on mass incarceration and chronically unconstitutional prison conditions.
These experiences fueled her longing for a criminal legal system that does not perpetuate racial disparities in arrests or sentencing, one that does not punish people for simply being poor, and one that does not give vulnerable populations reason to question whether police will protect and serve them… or kill them.
Attorney Softley currently works at the nonprofit Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans.