The UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law has created the Center for Racial Justice and Criminal Justice Reform, the school announced Wednesday (Sept. 1).
The center recently received approval by both the UA System Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Its mission is to advance legal equity, access to justice, and fairness in Arkansas and the region. Bowen professors Anastasia Boles and andré douglas pond cummings co-founded the center and will act as its co-directors.
“The center will provide educational and professional development opportunities for Bowen law students, empowering them to become the next generation of legal leaders,” said Boles. “Research fellowships, such as the newly created Sam Reeves Racial Justice and Criminal Justice Reform Fellowship, will provide stipends for student researchers.”
In addition, the center will focus on specific criminal justice research projects while offering workshops and educational events for the legal community and the community as a whole.
“The center is enthusiastic about engaging with stakeholders across the state, including the legal and law enforcement communities, academics, students, and community members, in developing research tools and sharing data to improve the lives of all Arkansans,” said cummings.
Another part of the center’s mission is to increase diversity in law school and the legal profession.
The Bowen School of Law recently received a $25,000 grant from the Building Black Communities Fund, coordinated by the Arkansas Community Foundation and the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative, to create and implement a law school pipeline program. The law school plans to work with Arkansas’ historically Black colleges and universities on the initiative.
“The center is firmly rooted in Bowen’s core values of access to justice, public service, and professionalism,” said Dean Theresa M. Beiner. “The events over the past year have brought these values to the forefront. Many students choose to attend law school because they seek to improve their communities and to be part of local, regional, and national conversations about the legal system. The center, through research opportunities and educational programs, will give them the opportunity to achieve those goals.”