Christopher James is a member of the Social Justice and Well-being team with the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Chris is working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in adult and youth justice systems nationwide. He comes to the Burns Institute with the hopes of directly engaging system stakeholders on behalf of communities of color, which are all too often not given a voice in response to a system in which they are overrepresented. He brings a background of direct legal representation of students recommended for suspension and expulsion throughout the Greater New Orleans area. While completing his education, Christopher interned with the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, CA and the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Miami, FL. Directly prior to joining the BI, Christopher worked to help develop, manage, and install a community advocacy program for foster youth in an underserved rural area.
After graduating Tulane Law School with the desire to become a public defender, Christopher eventually came to realize he wanted to have more of a widespread impact as opposed to doing good for individual clients while communities continued to be overwhelmed by a broken justice system. It was in law school Christopher came to really see the connection between youth justice systems, school discipline, and the adult criminal justice system. With that perspective, he has continued to advocate for youth and believes improvements in youth justice serve as the best models for developing strategies which can be implemented in adult systems. His passion for modeling adult justice systems on the progress and innovation within youth justice drives his commitment to the Burns Institute.