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Katherine Bonaguidi

Katherine Bonaguidi

Katherine is a graduate of Georgetown University where she studied English and World Religions. She then chose to enroll in law school at the USC Gould School of Law.

Like many who choose public interest law, Bonaguidi hoped to have a positive impact on people’s lives, via criminal justice or legal aid. That led her to the Post-Conviction Justice Project, where Professor Carrie Hempel took her on her first visit to a federal prison, demonstrating the value of clinical work. In the classroom, Professor Erwin Chemerinsky showed her the balance between privacy and transparency, which she carried into criminal justice work as she navigated competing interests of community stakeholders. In Tom Griffith’s Special Topics in Criminal Law course, she saw that well-intentioned policies can have devastating and disparate consequences in practice.

After graduation, Bonaguidi honed her legal skills at a civil law firm for a time, but with her heart as her guide, she joined the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s office, where she stayed for 13 years enjoying the variety of assignments and offices she was assigned to around LA. With more valuable skills in hand, she eventually signed on to The Innocence Center in San Diego, her hometown, and a role training law students in a clinical program.

Bonaguidi, who speaks Spanish, also teaches trial skills in Latin America, helping attorneys keep up with changing legal systems. She also advocates for criminal justice reform, especially sentencing reform. Lengthy prison sentences don’t protect the community and fail to rehabilitate offenders, she says. Though the journey to change is arduous, she sees reason for hope.

Guest Appearances
May 9, 2024

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Circular logic and blind faith sent many innocent parents to prison for the rest of their lives. Here’s why.