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TU Law student works to improve the rights of prisoners

Janay Clougherty is on a mission to improve the rights of convicted prisoners and create alternatives to prison. Clougherty, a third-year law student at The University of Tulsa College of Law, hopes to work as a public defender after graduation in 2018 and ultimately become involved in prisoners’ rights.

“I’m motivated to do this because of blatant human rights violations that occur on American soil in our prisons every day,” says Clougherty. “Over two million people are incarcerated, many for drug or immigration-related offenses. Many of our inmates are served rotten food, sent to solitary confinement — sometimes for years by prison officials — with no due process, people are executed and later exonerated through DNA evidence and people who leave prison often find themselves unable to function in regular society … and for what? The crime rate hasn’t gone down. The system is broken, and I intend to help fix it.”

“The system is broken, and I intend to help fix it.”


Clougherty decided to go to law school because, “I was sick of being a person who complained about the status quo but never actually did anything about it.” After visiting TU Law, she realized it was a good fit for her. “My expectations have not only been met by TU Law, but exceeded. The professors are competent and accessible, and the supporting faculty helps make sure that every student has the opportunity to get experience in their field of interest,” said Clougherty. “I love TU Law and consider it to be the best academic decision I have made to date.”

Clougherty is president of the Women’s Law Caucus, vice president of the Student Bar Association, treasurer of the National Native American Law Students Association and a student ambassador for the law school’s admissions office. She has worked as a clerk for the Honorable Judge Dana Kuehn, as an intern with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and as an intern with the Tulsa County Public Defender’s office. Her honors include winning third place in the Hager Torts Moot Competition, third place in the Criminal Motion Moot Competition and receiving a Muscogee Nation Doctoral Grant.

“I love TU Law and consider it to be the best academic decision I have made to date.”


As part of her overall mission, Clougherty also volunteers for Women in Recovery, a project of Family and Children’s Services of Oklahoma, which provides an alternative for women facing long prison sentences for non-violent, drug-related offenses. The organization works closely with the criminal justice system to ensure participants receive therapy and counseling, which is improving the recidivism rate.