Loyola student impacts civil rights division of DA office


Ryan Talley

Environmental portrait of Loyola sociology senior and CRD intern Molly Sullivan. She began working with the civil rights division last August.

Ava Acharya, Managing Editor for Digital

Loyola students have the opportunity to impact legitimate criminal justice reform through the civil rights division of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office.

Molly Sullivan, a Loyola sociology and Spanish senior, said that her involvement with the civil rights division “profoundly” altered the way she views criminal justice and heavily influenced her future career path.

Issues of criminal justice have a much greater impact than most people realize, she said, often perpetuating historical injustice and inequality.

“It bothers my soul,” she said. “It’s not something that sits well with me.”

Sullivan began working with the civil rights division in August 2022 and currently works for the Vital Projects Fund, an organization centered around criminal legal reform.

Sullivan added that she hopes to continue to work in the field after graduation.

“Now that I know that it’s going on, it’s not something I can not do something about,” she said.

Sullivan first became involved with the civil rights division at the recommendation of her sociology advisor, Marcus Kondkar, the chair of Loyola’s sociology department and director of the prison education program.

Kondkar said that students have the opportunity to learn about the history of sentencing in Orleans Parish, as well as research the cases of people who are currently incarcerated.

This program includes instances where children have been tried and convicted as adults, people have been convicted under non-unanimous juries, and convicted individuals have received unfair sentencing or faced wrongful convictions.

Bidish Sarma, an assistant district attorney in Orleans Parish, said that he has been able to supervise Loyola undergraduate student interns at the district attorney’s office through his position as a fellow with Loyola’s Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Kondkar added that these internship opportunities are paid, thanks to an external grant.

“The student interns have been a great asset to the civil rights division, and I’m proud that Loyola is involved in this effort in this very concrete way,” Kondkar said.