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Danielle C. Jefferis

Assistant Professor of Law

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. (cum laude; Public Interest Law Scholar; Senior Writing Fellow; Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies)
New York University, B.A. (Ibn Khaldun Prize for Excellence and Achievement in the Arabic Language)
Civil Procedure I and II
Prison Law and Policy

Professor Jefferis’s research focuses on theories of punishment and the law and policy governing prison and detention, with an emphasis on the for-profit prison industry and immigration-related confinement. She takes a comparative approach to her work, looking at carceral systems, practices, and theories around the world. Professor Jefferis has presented her research at Harvard Law School, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Denver College of Law, Loyola University School of Law, Louisiana State University Law, the University of Queensland (upcoming), and the Australian National University (upcoming), among others. She has provided expert commentary on private detention issues for national and international media outlets, including VICE, Mother Jones, and NowThis, and has been solicited as an amicus curiae for cases involving prison law and prisoners’ rights around the country.

Professor Jefferis’s scholarship is informed by her unique teaching and practice experience, which lie at the intersection of constitutional law and prisoners’ rights, immigration law, and federal courts. She has extensive civil rights litigation experience and has represented plaintiffs in federal courts across the country, including in the United States Supreme Court. She has taken several cases to trial and successfully litigated numerous appeals. In 2018, she was a member of a team of clinic faculty and student attorneys that successfully challenged the constitutionality of a federal prisoner’s convictions, resulting in his release from prison. One of her most memorable moments as an attorney and teacher was witnessing her client reunite with his family after being separated from them for more than a decade.

Prior to joining the California Western faculty, Professor Jefferis taught in the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Denver College of Law, where she supervised law students representing incarcerated people litigating civil rights claims in federal court. Before joining the Denver Law faculty, she was the Nadine Strossen Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project in New York and an associate attorney with a boutique civil rights firm in Colorado. Professor Jefferis also clerked for the now-retired Honorable Gale T. Miller of the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Professor Jefferis is admitted to practice in the State of New York and the State of Colorado; the U.S. District Courts for the District of Colorado, the Southern District of New York, and the Eastern District of Texas; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Visit Professor Jefferis’s SSRN Author Page.

  • The Impact of the Supermax Prison on the Federal Bench (with Nicole B. Godfrey) (work-in-progress).
  • The Civil Detention Fallacy (work-in-progress).
  • American Punishment and Pandemic, 21 NEVADA L.J. ___ (2021) (invited).
  • Beyond Emissions: Migration, Prisons, and the Green New Deal, 51 Environmental L. ___ (2021) (forthcoming) (with Wyatt G. Sassman).
  • Yearning to Breathe Free: Migration-Related Confinement in America, 106 Cornell L. Rev. Online ___ (2020) (forthcoming).
  • Dangerous Bodies, 33 J. C.R. & Econ. Dev. ___ (2020) (forthcoming).
  • Constitutionally Unaccountable: Privatized Immigration Detention, 95 Indiana L.J. 145 (2020).
  • Delegating Care, Evading Review: The Federal Tort Claims Act and Access to Medical Care in Federal Private Prisons, 80 La. L. Rev. 37 (2019).
  • Private Prisons, Private Governance: Essay on Developments in Private-Sector Resistance to Privatized Immigration Detention, 15 NW J.L. & Soc. Pol’y 82 (2019).
  • It’s Just Like Prison: Is a Civil (Nonpunitive System of Immigration Detention Theoretically Possible?, 96 Denv. L. Rev. 953 (2019) (with René Lima-Marín).