Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Legal Studies

Reader 1

Jennifer Groscup

Reader 2

Mark Golub

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The focus of the first chapter, Fitting the Environmental Justice Movement into the Legal System and Current Laws, explores the ways in which the EJ movement has tried to achieve justice through the formal pathways. These strategies involve the use of civil rights laws and utilize the legacies of similar cases and movements for justice. Lawsuits provide meaningful modes of progress outside of the courts, especially in raising awareness of certain issues but most importantly in fostering connections between different networks and collectives that fight for EJ and against intersecting oppressions. The strengths of the EJ movement are in its grassroot organizing and building coalitions across movements. In a lot of cases the expertise of impacted communities that is informed by their lived experiences, through a coalition of activists, scholars, and lawyers, are turned into practical expertise as recognized by institutions and authority in order to achieve progress. This paper highlight the limits of the legal system in the U.S. that fail to provide justice as they are often the perpetrators of injustices and violence toward marginalized communities.

In the following chapter, Environmental Justice Calls for Communities without Prisons, connections are made between the EJ movement and the prison industrial complex. Explored are legal cases and lawsuits against unjust prison landscapes that impact not just prisoners but their surrounding communities and even those beyond. Scholars such as David Pellow and Ruth Gilmore are referred to in order to illustrate how environmental injustice is a form of criminalization of marginalized communities and state sanctioned violence. The work of prisoner-led initiatives is highlighted and so are cases involving prisons underscoring the importance of building relationships between people on the inside and outside in addressing the issue of environmental injustice but also domination within our society as a whole. The work uplifts the environmental justice movement and the work it’s accomplished in resisting injustice. Discussed in closing is how transformative EJ embraces abolition in envisioning free and just futures for all.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.