Patrice Amandla Sulton, founder and Executive Director of DC Justice Lab, is an attorney, professor, and criminal justice reform advocate based in Washington, D.C. Her career is devoted to fundamentally changing the way people think about who we punish, why we punish, and how we punish. After working to advance racial justice in the courts and alongside grassroots movements for more than 15 years, Patrice founded DC Justice Lab to advance community-rooted public safety reforms. She envisions, writes, and fights for sweeping changes to American criminal laws and policies.
Patrice has represented clients in criminal and civil rights cases nationwide. She served on the District of Columbia’s Criminal Code Reform Commission (comprehensively rewriting D.C.’s criminal code), Police Reform Commission (recommending an overhaul D.C.’s approach to public safety), and Jails & Justice Task Force (publishing a plan to decarcerate by half and bring D.C.’s residents home to a safe environment).
Prior to her work drafting legislation, Patrice was a trial lawyer in private practice, where she represented clients in D.C. courts and federal courts nationwide. Patrice earned a reputation as a focused and fierce advocate for her clients and is known for leveraging her deep understanding of criminal law and procedure to approach cases thoughtfully and holistically.
Patrice is a passionate instructor and counsels law professionals, policymakers and community advocates on constitutional law, criminal justice, racial justice, advocacy, and systems change. She is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, where she teaches Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure and Trial Advocacy. In 2021, she was awarded the Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award. Patrice regularly devises and delivers trial skills and criminal law trainings for organizations such as the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Rising for Justice (formerly DC Law Students in Court), the DC Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
Before launching her own nonprofit, Patrice served on the Board of Directors for leading organizations focused on justice and equality, including NAACP DC, DC Lawyers for Youth, DC Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the New York Urban League Young Professionals. Patrice was named a “Rising Star” by the Greater Washington Area Chapter of the National Bar Association, Super Lawyers Magazine, and The National Law Journal and Legal Times. In 2021, she received the National Bar Association’s Lendon J. Alexander Advocacy & Leadership Award. Patrice earned her BA in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her JD from The George Washington University Law School.