Participatory Defense

Participatory Defense Programs have collectively helped to shave thousands of years off of people's prison sentences nationwide.

Participatory Defense transforms the injustice system by empowering incarcerated people and their families to positively impact the outcome of court cases. Based on a community organizing model, families and communities work together by taking an active role in their loved one’s defense and demand that their voices are heard in the court process.

Alameda County Participatory Defense Hub

CURYJ is a proud member of the National Participatory Defense Network and a founding member of the Alameda County Participatory Defense Hub. Participatory Defense was developed and created by families of Silicon Valley De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project. Our allies in the hub include All Of Us Or None, Young Women’s Freedom Center, and Urban Peace Movement.nt.

All Of Us Or None logo
Young Womens Freedom Center logo
Urban Peace Movement logo

Participatory Defense Works

Watch the videos below to see Participatory Defense in action. Sergio was freed 6 years early due to his hard work and his mother Maricela’s dedicated advocacy. In this video, J explains how Participatory Defense works and how to get involved.

In the second video you will see an example of a social bio video that will be shown to the judge in Ed Haro’s pending case. This video was produced by CURYJ so that the courts can see Ed as more than a case, but as a man, father, and spiritual leader.

Get Involved

CURYJ’s Participatory Defense program is led by Daniela Guzman, with support from J Vasquez. Both have inside knowledge of the court and prison system due to their own incarceration. Daniela won her release from a life sentence through CURYJ’s Participatory Defense work. Together, along with the Hub, they work with families and incarcerated people as thought partners while providing emotional support through the long and arduous criminal legal process.

The Hub holds weekly strategy sessions with system-impacted families to get the best possible outcome for their loved ones. The Hub is currently meeting virtually and families are free to join at any time. Families learn together and support one another to win freedom for their loved ones. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Participatory Defense, contact

Other Programs at CURYJ

Tap on the image to learn more about the program.

    Back to top