Nekima Levy-Pounds


(651) 962-4959
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4959

1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Office Location: MSL 332

J.D., University of Illinois College of Law

B.A., University of Southern California

Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds is the director of the Community Justice Project (CJP), an award-winning civil rights legal clinic. The CJP is a part of the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services. Levy-Pounds teaches and supervises law students as they use the law as a tool to advance the cause of social justice in poor communities of color through problem-solving, legal research and writing, community engagement and legislative advocacy. Levy-Pounds’ goal in founding the CJP was to take a more holistic approach to addressing complex issues affecting the poor and working poor.

In addition to her work in the CJP, Levy-Pounds is an active contributor to the field of civil rights and criminal justice by serving as a consultant to local civil rights organizations and community groups, a commentator in local media, and a lecturer and speaker in national and international forums. Her scholarly interests include African Americans and the law, the impact of the war on drugs on African American children and families, the treatment of women in prisons, and intersecting issues of race, class, and the criminal justice system.  Levy-Pounds also focuses on juvenile justice issues, police and community relations, and the school to prison pipeline facing children of color.

Because of her work in the Community Justice Project, Levy-Pounds was selected by Minnesota Senator Al Franken to advise the senator in his decision to support Elena Kagan for the United States Supreme Court.

Courses Taught

Number Title Credits
941 Clinic:Community Justice Prjct 6
944 Clinic: Adv Community Justice 1
950 Supervised Resrch & Writing .5

Areas of Academic Expertise:

Social Justice
Civil Rights and Criminal Justice

From the article "Grand Ideas: Faculty members describe the best ideas from their scholarship" St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine Fall 2011

My greatest emphasis in my scholarly writing has focused on intersecting issues such as race, poverty and the criminal justice system on African-American children and families. Alarmingly, there are more than 2.4 million, or 1 in 100, adults incarcerated in the United States. Sadly, poor
African-American men and women comprise a disproportionate number of this group, largely as a result of the war on drugs that began in the mid-1980s. When African-American men and
women are incarcerated, their children often suffer emotionally and psychologically, and are sent to live with other relatives or are placed in what are sometimes broken foster-care systems. I argue that in order to preserve poor African-American families, we must reexamine our drug war policies and work to mitigate the harms these laws and policies have caused to this segment of the population.

Upcoming: Focusing on the link between the language of the 13th Amendment and the current incarceration crisis in the United States.

Contributions and mentions in the media


"Par for the Course?: Exploring the Impacts of Incarceration and Marginalization on Poor Black Men in the U.S."

Levy-Pounds, Nekima, Par for the Course?: Exploring the Impacts of Incarceration and Marginalization on Poor Black Men in the U.S. (2013). 14 Journal of Law and Society 29 (2013); U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-23. 

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Uzodima F. Aba-Onu, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Joanna Salmen, & Artika Tyner, Evaluation of Gang Databases in Minnesota and Recommendations for Change, 19 Info. & Comm. Tech.  L.  223 (2010).

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Can These Bones Live? A Look at the Impacts of the War on Drugs on Poor African-American Children and Families, Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 353 (2010).

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Nekima Levy-Pounds & Artika Tyner, Principles of Ubuntu: Using the Legal Clinical Model to Train Agents of Social Change, 13 Intl. J. Clin. Leg. Educ. 7 (2008). 

Nekima Levy-Pounds, From the Frying Pan Into the Fire: How Poor Women of Color and Children are Affected by the Sentencing Guidelines and Mandatory Minimums, 47 Santa Clara L. Rev. 285 (2007)

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Nekima Levy-Pounds, Beaten by the System and Down for the Count: Why Poor Women of Color and Children Don't Stand A Chance Against U.S. Drug Sentencing Policy, 3 U. St. Thomas L.J. 462 (2006).

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Short Pieces

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Fellowship on Inauguration Day, 25 U. St. Thomas Magazine 77 (Spring 2009).

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Beaten by the System and Down for the Count, Insight News (Jan. 1 – Mar. 12, 2007).

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Children of Incarcerated Parents and the Struggle for Stability, 2 Mod. Am. 14 (2006).

Nekima Levy-Pounds, Advice for those Encounters with Bad Actor Lawyers, 11 The Young Law. 4 (2006).