WHAT DOES “PRO SE” MEAN?
Pro Se is is rooted in Latin, and means "for oneself" or "on behalf of oneself." In this case, it means to advocate for one’s self in a legal context.
WHAT IS A PRO SE GUIDE?
A Pro Se Guide gives people the basic tools to defend and advocate for themselves throughout various interactions with police, courts, and jails within the criminal legal system.
ArchCity Defenders produced these guides as a response to the limited capacity in the region to provide free legal services, and the need for the legal information contained in the guides to be publicly available. ACD wrote the content and partnered with local artists, illustrators and designers to have a final product that people would want to pick up, read, and use effectively. The final design was created by local illustrator Theresa Williams in summer of 2018.
SOME KEY FINDINGS THAT MOTIVATED THIS CAMPAIGN:
People who are most likely to be targeted by police, courts & jails have the least resources to defend and advocate for themselves. Individuals arrested and ticketed by the police for low-level crimes often never have an opportunity to see a lawyer.
Over 90% of people in municipal court are forced to appear and defend themselves with limited resources. This leads to people pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit, agreeing to pay fines and fees they cannot afford, and often ending up in jail.
Historically, municipalities in St. Louis have generated millions of dollars through racial profiling, revenue based policing, and excessive court fines and fees. These practices are exacerbated by the fact that the vast majority of people impacted by these unjust systems are unrepresented and do not know their right or how to navigate the criminal legal system. As a result, thousands of people have lost jobs, vehicles, time with their family, spent nights in jail and fallen into deeper poverty.