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Esther Lim - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Esther Lim Esther Lim

Adjunct Lecturer | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Esther Lim is an expert in advocacy and reformation of the criminal justice system.


ESTHER LIM is an adjunct lecturer of social work, teaching a management and organizational development course for the Community, Organization, and Business Innovation department. She has been a field instructor since 2012 and an external field instructor since 2014.

For more than 15 years, she has focused her career on advocacy and reformation of the criminal justice system. As director of the Jails Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, she works to defend the civil rights of incarcerated individuals in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. She monitors the conditions of confinement, overcrowding and excessive use of force on inmates; she has testified in open court and has worked with federal agencies regarding incidents she personally witnessed; and she has been interviewed multiple times by national media organizations. In addition to her jails work, she is also deputy director for the ACLU SoCal’s Advocacy Department, responsible for many administrative and management duties to ensure a more effective and efficient focus on the affiliate’s integrated advocacy approaches to the work.

Prior to joining the ACLU SoCal, Lim worked in juvenile correctional facilities, where she conducted individual and group therapy sessions with adolescent sex offenders. She also volunteered with the Orange County Probation Department’s Adult Sex Offender Unit.

She sits on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s gender-responsive advisory board and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Custody Services Division’s Community-Police Advisory Board. Previously, she served on the Corrections Standards Authority’s (now known as the Board of State and Community Corrections) Executive Steering Committee for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Lim serves as president of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s Alumni Leadership Council and is a fellow of the Network of Korean-American Leaders. She has also been credited as an associate producer and consultant for several independent movie studios and production companies, providing script and character assessments for directors, producers and actors.

Education (2)

University of Southern California: M.S.W. 2010

California State University, Long Beach: B.S. 2006

Areas of Expertise (3)

Jail Reformation



Industry Expertise (3)

Public Policy


Health and Wellness

Accomplishments (2)

Jules Levine Distinguished Field Education Award (professional)

USC School of Social Work

Participant (professional)

West Coast Regional Hearing, Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, American Bar Association

Affiliations (2)

  • Jails Project, Director
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Deputy Director of Advocacy


Media Appearances (3)

Orange County jail inmate found dead; five workers put on leave

Los Angeles Times  online


“How long did it take for deputies to intervene while Pham was being killed? Usually if there is a fight going on in the jails, it gets fairly loud in there,” said Esther Lim, director of the ACLU of Southern California’s Jails Project and an author of the report. (...)

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Violence and inhumane conditions plague Orange County jails, ACLU report alleges

Los Angeles Times  online


“They’re literally scarfing food down,” said Esther Lim, a jails advocate with the ACLU who worked on the report. (...)

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Top L.A. County sheriff's official resigns over emails mocking Muslims and others

Los Angeles Times  online


Esther Lim, director of the Jails Project at the ACLU of Southern California, called McDonnell’s initial reaction “a little passive.” (...)

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