Cara H. Drinan, J.D. Headshot


  • Columbus School of Law
  • Expertise

  • Juvenile justice & juvenile sentencing
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Capital punishment
  • Access to counsel
  • Mass incarceration
  • Clemency/pardons/parole
  • Educational Background

    Drinan holds a B.A., summa cum laude, from Bowdoin College, an M.A. from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She was a 1995 recipient of a Truman Scholarship and a 1997 recipient of a Marshall Scholarship.

    In the Media


    • Misconstruing Graham & Miller

      In this Washington University Law Review, Drinan analyzes the response to recent rulings by the Supreme Court striking down a majority of the states� juvenile sentencing laws, outlawing life without parole for juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses and mandating individualized sentencing for those children who commit even the most serious crimes. She concludes that state actors have failed to comply with the Court�s mandate, and maps out a path for future compliance that relies heavily upon the strength and agility of the executive branch.

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    • Graham on the Ground

      In Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to sentence a non-homicide juvenile offender to life in prison without parole. In this Washington Law Review article, Drinan answers several key questions about the ruling, including: To whom does the Graham decision apply? What is the appropriate remedy for those inmates? What affirmative obligations does the Graham decision impose upon the states?

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    • The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation

      For years, scholars have documented the national crisis in indigent defense and its many tragic implications, and yet the crisis persists. In this NYU Review of Law and Social Change article, Drinan distills from the recent body of suits a model for indigent defense litigation that emphasizes empirical grounding, extensive alliances of support, and requests for sweeping reform.

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