STUDENTS: Lauren Brown-Hulme advocates for prisoners’ rights

As an undergraduate journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lauren Brown-Hulme tackled some tough topics for the school newspaper. She wrote several articles about issues within Nebraska prisons: overcrowding, understaffing, the lack of an effective reentry programming, and more.

Reporting on issues like these gave Brown-Hulme a strong desire to take on an advocacy role.

“As I listened to stories about inadequate conditions of confinement and factors contributing to recidivism, I realized I was just spotlighting the issues rather than working to change them,” she said.

This led to Brown-Hulme enrolling at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2019, with the hope that she’d be able to use the power of law to enact social change. She is currently the co-president of the Social Justice Student Initiative and an active volunteer of the S.J. Quinney College of Law Pro Bono Initiative.

Brown-Hulme is spending this summer working as a legal intern at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah.

The ACLU of Utah operates through public education, legal advocacy, litigation, and lobbying at both the state and local levels to ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of everyone living in or visiting Utah. Their priorities include participatory democracy, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, religious liberty and freedom of belief, and privacy and technology. Additionally, the organization works to reform the Utah criminal justice system.

During her time as a legal intern at the ACLU of Utah, Brown-Hulme has focused on assisting with ongoing prisoners’ rights litigation. This work focuses on ensuring conditions of confinement and treatment of incarcerated persons in Utah’s prisons and jails are constitutional and consistent with health, safety, and human dignity.

This work is especially important during a worldwide pandemic. Currently, the ACLU of Utah has pursued legal action to minimize the harm COVID-19 inflicts or could inflict on the people involved in the criminal legal system.

As a legal intern, Brown-Hulme has tracked nationwide litigation related to the threat of COVID-19 for incarcerated individuals, drafted legal memoranda and briefs, assisted in reviewing discovery, and is currently co-authoring an article regarding barriers to relief for prisoners’ COVID-19 related claims.

“Wherever my legal career leads, I hope to be doing work that increases access to justice and uses the law as a tool for social change,” Brown-Hulme said. “I know that my time at the ACLU of Utah is equipping me for this.”