Criminal Law and Justice

Transforming Justice in Oregon: Racism, Protests and COVID-19

October 28, 2020  • Criminal Justice Reform Initiative


The path to justice will be different in each community. Founded in the late 1800s with a state constitution that specifically excluded Black Americans, Oregon’s current criminal justice system’s struggles are built on that legacy. Our guest in this episode is Bobbin Singh, founding Executive Director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center. He discusses Oregon’s past, and how that history influences today’s policing response to protests in Oregon and the prison system’s response to COVID-19, and calls on Oregon to recognize its past in order to transform its criminal legal system.

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Guest Profile: Bobbin Singh

photo of Bobbin SinghBobbin Singh is the founding Executive Director of Oregon Justice Resource Center. He was born and raised in Atlanta, GA., and deeply inspired by the great figures of the civil rights movement in the South, often musing that as an Atlantan the first names he learned as a child were Dr. Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, Hosea Williams, and John Lewis.

Bobbin moved to Portland in 2003, studying for his Bachelor’s at Portland State University and his JD at an Oregon law school. After graduating from law school in 2011, he started Oregon Justice Resource Center. Bobbin believes that mass incarceration, including over incarceration, mass conviction, and wrongful convictions, is in fact the greatest civil rights crisis of our time and we must all take ownership of it. He argues that for individual rights to have any meaning, we must protect them for everyone, without exception.

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About Shades of Freedom

Shades of Freedom, from The Aspen Institute Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is a new podcast amplifying and uplifting promising efforts aimed at reducing mass incarceration, and looking at the ecosystem of related inequalities that surrounds and perpetuates incarceration.

The podcast can be found on all the major platforms, including Apple, Google, and Spotify. You can also listen from the from the series home page or listen to the current episode at the top of this page.

The Shades of Freedom podcast, hosted by Dr. Douglas E. Wood, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is named after and inspired by the book Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process, by Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.