As a catalyst in raising the visibility of issues involving unequal justice, she has testified, written, and spoken extensively on issues of civil/human rights, and criminal and civil justice reform, before the U.S. Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission, the District of Columbia City Council, and the American Bar Association Justice Kennedy Commission. Ms. Taifa is a former Chairperson of the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights, and has served on the boards of scores of public interest organizations, receiving numerous awards for her accomplishments in social justice. Nkechi Taifa received her Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University.
Nkechi Taifa has served as Senior Policy Analyst for the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Policy Center since 2002 covering issues of criminal, civil and racial justice reform. She is the founder and convener of the Justice Roundtable coalition. She served as Founding Director of the Howard University School of Law's award-winning Equal Justice Program from 1995-2002, and as an adjunct professor at Howard Law and American University Washington College of Law. Throughout her career she has served as legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Office; policy counsel for the Women's Legal Defense Fund; staff attorney for the National Prison Project and Network Organizer for the Washington Office on Africa. In her private law practice from 1987-1991, Taifa represented indigent adult and juvenile clients, and specialized in employment discrimination law.
Board of Advisors, 2009-2011
Institute of the Black World 21st Century
Board of Advisors, 2009-2012
Behind the Cycle
District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights
American Bar Association
National Bar Association
Member, Board of Directors, 1992-98
Co-Chairperson, Section on Criminal Justice, 1992-98
President, D.C. Chapter, 1988-91
National Conference of Black Lawyers
Member, Board of Directors, 1989-91
National Lawyers Guild
Honorary Board 2013-present
Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2008
Washington Council of Lawyers
Washington Bar Association
Member, Board of Directors, 1998-2004
American Civil Liberties Union of National Capital Area
Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2001
D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program (FK Public Service Activities Comm)
Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2004
Bureau of Rehabilitation, Inc.
Member, Board of Directors, 1995-2001
D.C. Prisoners Legal Services, Inc.
Member, Board of Directors, 1993-95
Section Co-Chair, 1994-95
D.C. Bar Section on Criminal Law & Individual Rights
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
Chair, Legislative Commission 1995-2005
National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America
Member, Board of Directors, 1992-98
Center for Study and Harassment of African Americans
Advisory Board, 2000-2002
American Assoc. of Law Schools Pro Bono Committee
Community and Alumni Affairs Committee
Howard University School of Law
Chair, Board of Trustees, academic year 1999-2000
Roots Public Charter School
Member, Board of Directors, 1993-present
African Freedom Fund Treasury
Member, Board of Directors, 1980-present
Kwanzaa Children's Party, Inc. Organizing Committee
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Steering Committee on D.C. Statehood
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Steering Committee on Voting Rights
Coordinator and Trainer, 1995
Million Man March Legal Observer Committee
General Counsel, 1990-92
African American Writer's Guild
General Counsel, 1984-87
Republic of New Africa Ministry of Justice
Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign
Interrelated Solutions to Integrative Issues: A Multidisciplinary Look Behind the Cycle of Incarceration - Harvard Law and Policy Review, Vol 3:2 Summer 2009 (co-authored by Catherine Beane).
Codification or Castration: The Applicability of the Intern'l Race Convention to the U.S. Criminal Justice System - 40:3 Howard Law Journal 641 (1997)
Cracked Justice: A Critical Examination of Cocaine Sentencing - 27 University of West Los Angeles Law Review 107 (1996).
Civil Forfeiture vs. Civil Liberties - 39:1-2 New York Law School Law Review 95 (1994).
Three Strikes & You're Out: Mandatory Life Imprisonment for Third Time Felons - 20:2 University of Dayton Law Review 717 (1995)
ACS Guest Post, "My Brother's Keeper: How We Failed the Central Park 5," Bennett, Frazer & Taifa (March 14, 2014)
Article, "Righting Historical Wrongs Through Clemency," Washington Informer Newspaper, (February 28, 2014)
Blog Post, "Justice for Eight in Crack Cocaine Sentencing: Thousands More to Go," OSF Voices, (January 7, 2014)
Blog Post, "Judge Patricia Wald: A Champion of Freedom," November 20, 2013, OSF Voices, (November 20, 2013)
Video of Panel, The Era of Mass Incarceration, American Constitution Society Convention, September 11, 2013
Blog Post, "How to Slash the Cost and Size of Overcrowded U.S. Prisons OSF Voices (November 7, 2013)
Taifa talks to American Constitution Society blog on mass incarceration. ACS video , (August 21, 2013)
Guest Blog Post, "Holder Seeks to Reform Harsh Drug Sentencing, Incarceration Laws, ACSBlog (August 13, 2013)
Blog Post, "Cracking the Disparities: The Ongoing Battle for Fairness in Crack Sentencing," Huffington Post, (June 26, 2012)
ACS Guest Blog Post: "Missing the Mark with Mandatory Minimums: 25 Years of a Flawed Strategy," (September 20, 2011)
"A Bittersweet Moment in History," article on crack cocaine legislative update, Champion Magazine - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (May 2010)
Video of Taifa Interview: 25 Years of Injustice: Sentencing Disparities for Crack and Powder Cocaine,The Coffee House, hosted by Angela Jordan Davis, February 1, 2010.
Video Blog, "taifa Calls for New Thinking on Criminal justice Policy, American Constitution Society (December 22, 2009)
Blog Post, "The Importance of an Integrative Approach to Justice," ACS Blog (December 4, 2009)
Moderator, "Reorienting Federal Criminal Justice Policy: An Opportunity for a More Integrative Approach?", featuring Senator Jim Webb, Congressman Bobby Scott, and White House Domestic Policy Counsel Florentino Mariano Cuellar, with panel of experts (December 9, 2009).
Policy Report, "Moving Toward a More Integrative Approach to Justice Reform, Behind the Cycle Project (February 2008).
White Paper, The Crack/Powder Disparity: Can the International Race Convention PRovide a Basis for Relief?" American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (2006)
"Social Policy Implications of Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System," published in Color of Social Policy, Chapter Six
Tulia: Tip of the Drug War Iceberg (Book Project Chair)
"Emmett Till: A New DOJ Investigation is Welcomed," Watching Justice (May 12, 2004)
"Crack, Congress and the Million Man March." Black Commentator (October 20, 2005)
"Roadblocked Reentry: The Prison After Imprisonment" (November 13, 2003)
Report, "Re-Enfranchisement! A Guide for Individual Restoration of Voting RIghts in States that Permanently Disenfranchisement Former Felons." Advancement Project (September 2002)
Script for Mock Trial, "Justice on Trial: Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System, written and produced for the National Bar Association 2001.
Proceedings - "Human Rights in the U.S.: The Unfinished Story of COINTELPRO and U.S. Political Prisoners" September 14, 2000 Congressional Black Caucus Forum hosted by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, containing official transcript of remarks. See also video of Taifa testimony at the Proceedings on the Cointelpro.
Panelist, "Racial Profiling: Good Police Tactic or Harassment?" CATO Institute (May 15, 2001)
Report Introduction, "The Impact of the Criminal Justice System on Women and Their Families," 2.1 Center for Research on African American Women Journal 11 (2001)
"Reflections From the Frontlines - An Insider's Perspective on the Crack Cocaine Controversy," 10:4 Federal Sentencing Reporter 200 (1998).
"Beyond Institutionalized Racism: The Genocidal Impact of Executive, Legislative, & Judicial Decision-Making in the Crack Cocaine Fiasco," National Bar Association Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 5 (1996).
Drug Laws 100 Times Harder on Blacks, Focus Magazine, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (April 1995).
"Laying Down the Law, Race by Race: Criminal Sentencing Falls Disproportionately Harsh on Blacks and Latinos" Legal Times (October 10, 1994).
"The Crime Bill: A Civil Liberties Perspective," National Bar Association Magazine (Sept/Oct 1994).
ACLU Analysis of Major Civil Liberties Abuses in Senate Crime Bill (principal drafter) January 7, 1994.
"Race + Three Strikes = Injustice," National Law Journal (March 2, 1994)
"Mandatory Minimum Sentences Open Up a Pandora's Box," National Prison Project Journal (July 1993).
Contributing author to Reparations Yes: The Legal and Political Reasons Why Blacks Should be Paid for the Enslavement of Our Ancestors.