New Criminal Justice Student Organization at UC Davis


By Nancy Martinez

DAVIS, Ca – A new UC Davis student organization held its first general meeting on April 28, 2020. This new organization aims to educate students on the flaws of the criminal justice system and advocate for reformative legislation.

The Justice Initiative is a new student organization that was created by Lauren Zaren, a previous intern for the Davis Vanguard. In an Instagram post from the organization’s page, Lauren describes the motivation for creating the Initiative: “I am passionate about Criminal Justice Reform and wanted a venue on campus to meet and work with other students who care about this issue… we will try to amplify existing reform-centered voices and organizations and encourage Davis students to take part in demanding change.”

As a current board member of the Initiative, I find this organization to be key in bridging communities affected by the flaws of the criminal justice system. Education on the criminal justice system is seldom available, unless one is pursuing a higher career within the system, and this organization strives to educate and motivate all students on the issues that indirectly affect the entire community.

The new student organization held its first general meeting on April 28 where board members updated attending students on current COVID-19 and incarcerated population circumstances.

Updates included current statistics of the COVID-19 infected incarcerated population—both adult and juvenile populations, and what makes these populations especially vulnerable to a respiratory illness such as COVID-19.

The Initiative shared multiple local organizations relating to the criminal justice system including Decarcerate Sacramento, ACLU of Northern California, and the Youth Justice Coalition LA.

New source outlets such as the Appeal, the Marshall Project, and the Innocence Project were also shared with fellow students interested in criminal justice reform.

Moving forward, the group will be sharing volunteer and advocacy opportunities focusing on reformative issues as well as holding general meetings to discuss what the student population can be doing to support their community.

Weekly newsletters will be sent out to their listserv, covering community updates. If you’d like to share your organization, please email

The Justice Initiative at UC Davis is available on Facebook and Instagram.


About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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