Featured Lawtina: Maritza Perez

Maritza Perez, Esq. is a Senior Policy Analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, DC. She analyzes, advises, and advances federal legislation to minimize the harmful impacts of the criminal justice system. Prior to joining CAP, Maritza was a Legislative Staff Attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Washington, DC. She began her legal career at MALDEF as a Soros Justice Fellow, advocating for policies to end mass incarceration. Her portfolio at MALDEF expanded to include immigration policy, employment rights, education access, and judicial nominations.


Maritza earned her J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law where she received the highest distinction for her pro bono work. In law school, Maritza interned with the ACLU of Northern California and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund where she worked on policing and prison reform. She also participated in several student clinics, including Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, where she worked to remove her client from death row; the Post-Conviction Advocacy Project, where she successfully helped her incarcerated client gain parole; and the Immigration Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, where she helped her clients apply for DACA and win relief from deportation.


Before attending law school, Maritza joined Teach For America and was a fourth grade teacher in New Orleans. She received her B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Nevada, Reno with academic honors. As an undergraduate, she participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Internship Program and worked in the Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Washington, DC.


Maritza is passionate about public service and justice for underserved individuals. She currently serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect for the city of Washington, DC and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a youth in foster care. Additionally, Maritza is a Board Member of both the Hispanic Bar Association of DC and the American Constitution Society (Washington, DC Lawyer Chapter). She was named one of the Hispanic National Bar Association's Top Lawyers Under 40 in 2019, recognizing her outstanding record of public service and professional excellence. 


The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Maritza is the first in her family to receive a higher education and earn a professional degree. She is originally from Elko, Nevada.