About Us

We are a movement of people walking with a limp, from different walks of life. There is no us or them, no beneficiary or benefactor. Each of us is both.

Watch Rebel Education – a six-part documentary series on Al Jazeera looking at innovative learning models.
Play Button Icon
Our Story

Founded in 2007 as African Prisons Project, Justice Defenders is a registered US nonprofit and UK charity with nearly 350 people working across three African countries.  

Some of us are free and some imprisoned. Some are poor in spirit and some just poor. We find value in serving others and showing mercy. We’re people who’ve fallen from the law and been captured by grace. Given our histories, we know that without grace, we are nothing. 

Justice Defenders paralegals serving clients in our legal office in Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia.
Our Values


We courageously act for a new and better world.

We seek to do what hasn’t been done before, or that which we haven’t done before. We act bravely, take risks, and move forward to a preferred future. One where justice is accessible, reliable, and can be practised best by those who need it most.  


We’re servants, sinners, and saints.

We aspire to be servant lawyers. We recognise that the law can help us gain power and wealth. But we choose to give away some of those things, so we may step towards those on the margins of society. We have very little to offer but everything to give. 


We’re building bridges in adversarial justice systems.

We value radical kinship, within our community and in partnership with other agencies. We are seeking allies out of adversaries, who will drive us forward with the hope of a better future, without being limited by our past. 

Justice Defenders Alexander Mclean

Alexander McLean

Alexander is the Founder and CEO of Justice Defenders. He is passionate about justice, having trained as a barrister and magistrate. During gap year travels to East Africa, McLean fundraised to provide better health facilities and educate Ugandan incarcerated people about the law. After graduating from the University of Nottingham in 2007, he moved to Kampala, where he created a team of local and international staff and volunteers to develop the work of the African Prisons Project, now Justice Defenders. In the latter part of 2022, he spent time teaching at Grinnell College as well as in men’s and women’s prisons in Iowa.

He is a Senior TED Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, and UK Young Philanthropist of the Year. He appears in TIME’s 30 Under 30 Changing the World and ‘The Power List’, featuring Britain's most influential people of African and African-Caribbean heritage.

Karen Saidi
Karen Saidi
Country Director – Uganda
Tim Bisong
Tim Bisong
Country Director – The Gambia
Miriam Wachira
Miriam Wachira
Country Director – Kenya
Our Partners

In the spirit of solidarity and radical inclusion.

Lives are lost waiting for justice to arrive. We accelerate progress alongside governments, NGOs, national prison services, funders, the judiciary, universities, and the wider legal fraternity.

Our Board & PatronS
The Right Hon. Lord Boateng
Member of Parliament - Patron
The Hon. Dame Linda Dobbs DBE
High Court Judge - Patron
Luis Franceschi
The Commonwealth - UK & US Board
Janet Lintott
Bryden Johnson - UK & US Board
James Holt
Archewell Foundation - US Board
Xochi Birch
US Board
Dr. Anne Merriman
Anne Merriman Foundation - UK Board
Jon Snow
Channel 4 News - Patron
The Right Rev'd Rose Hudson-Wilkin
Bishop of Dover - Patron

Find out more about how Justice Defenders (UK) is run.

Close Icon