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Abstract

This article explores design justice as a framework for deeper inclusion in municipal criminal court reform. Section I provides a brief summary of a typical litigant’s path through modern municipal courts. Then, section I explores the historic role of municipal courts, the insider/outsider dichotomy of municipal criminal regulation, and the limitations of past reform efforts. Section II shifts into an overview of participatory design and discusses the new emergence of design justice. Within the discussion of design justice, the article focuses on three precepts of design justice: excavating the history and impact of the courts, creating tools for participation, and finding clear and shared understandings of spatial experiences. The final section applies a design justice framework to municipal criminal regulation to create fundamental change. By implementing design justice principles, marginalized communities can strike down oppressive municipal criminal regulation that maintains the social hierarchy, and rally supporters from within and outside of the system to design an inclusive plan for change.

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