Clinic - Youth Reentry and Legal Services
Every year thousands of young people return to their communities after court involvement with limited resources or opportunity for successful reintegration. In 2009 there were over 20,000 young people 16 to 18 years of age in New York State (NYS) convicted of a misdemeanor and 90% of those convicted were poor young men of color. Misdemeanor convictions in NYS never seal and carry a host of legal and practical challenges to successful reentry. This leaves young people with the daunting task of trying to find legal services to ensure that their conviction record does not for instance, preclude them from obtaining employment, public housing, returning to secondary school or acceptance into higher educational institutions all of which are crucial for future success. Therefore, many court-involved youth are in great need of legal representation both during and after court involvement to lift these legal barriers and enhance their ability to flourish and lead productive lives. Students will work directly with court-involved youth and learn substantive law in the areas of criminal justice and reentry. They will assist in interviewing and advising clients with criminal records on their legal rights and obligations, obtaining and reviewing criminal histories, correcting errors, sealing appropriate records, and applying for certificates of relief from disabilities. As issues arise, students will also assist in direct legal representation in both criminal and family court, employment discrimination and employment licensing denials, school suspension and public housing denial and eviction proceedings, and access to higher education. Students will also have an opportunity to perform investigations, write motions, strategize on policy reform, teach "Know Your Rights" education classes throughout NYC to at risk youth, and create new workshops around evolving issues effecting youth reentry. Seminar Credits: 2.00 There will be a 2-hour seminar each week, which will cover the theoretical, legal and practical challenges faced by court involved youth. The course will include the collateral consequences and stigma of a criminal record, law enforcement practices, race and the criminal justice system, the impact of crime and reentry on families and communities, and the current trends in policy reform in NYS.
The Clinic will be offered to six students as a full year course (4-credits per semester). Clinic students will be expected to perform 8 hours of field work per week at Youth Represent (YR) and at YR's community-based partner organizations in all boroughs of New York City (NYC). Youth Represent is a holistic youth defense and advocacy non-profit providing interdisciplinary representation to youth 24 and under who are involved in the criminal justice system, or who are experiencing other legal issues because of past involvement in the criminal justice system. YR provides criminal and juvenile defense, civil reentry legal services, policy advocacy and education.