ON THIS EPISODE
We are celebrating Women’s History Month with two incredible guests! On this episode Ilham Askia is flying solo speaking with two women who are leading the charge in public defense and the criminal justice reform.
Host Ilham Askia speaks with Alaina Bloodworth, Deputy Director of the Black Public Defender Association, and Keisha Hudson Brooks, Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Listen in as they speak about how mentorship impacted their careers, women in public defense, and the challenges women of color face fighting within the criminal legal system.
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” – Madam C J Walker.
ABOUT THE GUESTS
Mrs. Alaina Bloodworth is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Southern University A&M College where she received her B.S. in Elementary Education and her Juris Doctorate.
Upon graduation, Mrs. Bloodworth served as a Public Defender and Director of Students at the Baton Rouge Office of Public Defender, where she has practiced client-centered zealous representation for the past several years. As the Director of Students, she increased diversity in new attorney hires and raised awareness of the importance of public defense at her local law schools.
Additionally, recognizing the importance of fair and sensible legislation, Ms. Bloodworth has bolstered the office’s involvement with local and state legislators through a stronger legislative, policy, and strategic planning presence.
She was also the recipient of the Gideon’s Promise 2020 Public Defender Ambassador Award for her work with her local chapter of the NAACP, where she raised funds from her community to bail out 10 women for Christmas. Mrs. Bloodworth also serves as the Social Justice Chair of her local branch of the NAACP. In October 2020, Mrs. Bloodworth was announced as the first ever Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Baton Rouge Office of Public Defender.
Mrs. Bloodworth currently serves as the new Deputy Director of the Black Public Defender Association. The Black Public Defender Association aims to improve the quality of defense provided to low-income communities across the United States by creating and maintaining a national network of skilled Black public defenders that identify with and are committed to the populations they serve.
She is also a member of the Louis A. Martinet Society, Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
Keisha Hudson Brooks spent nearly eighteen years as a public defender, first as the Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and then as a capital appellate defender with the Federal Defender-Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Capital Habeas Unit) representing people on death row in their state post-conviction and federal habeas appeals. As a seasoned trial and appellate defender, Keisha has an in-depth understanding of what it means to be a public defender. At the Capital Habeas Unit, she was the Director of Training.
In 2016, she left the Federal Defender and joined the Montgomery County Office of the Public Defender Officer to become the Deputy Chief Defender. Ms. Hudson joined the Montgomery County Office of the Public Defender with the goal of building and strengthening advocacy in the courtroom. Along with former Chief Defender Dean Beer, she addressed systemic issues regarding policing, pretrial detention, sentencing, and probation in the county. In four years, Chief Defender Dean Beer and Ms. Hudson built one of the best public defender offices in the state.
In 2020, Keisha worked with The Justice Collaborative and The Appeal, developing and leading advocacy and media campaigns on criminal justice issues- specifically campaigns aimed at looking at creative and successful community alternatives that truly create public safety.
From 2020 to the present she has been a visiting professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT
- How do you think the legal profession has changed in the past decade for women?
- What is something you feel you are most proud of in your career?
- Do you feel like the challenges you face as a public defender have ever been magnified because you are also a woman in a profession where unconscious bias may play a role inside the courtroom?
Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice (2020) by Jonathan Rapping.