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Overcoming Legal Barriers to Reentry: Law School-Based Approach to Providing Legal Services to the Reentry Community

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 77 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2013 Pages: 3-8
Todd A. Berger; Joseph A. DaGrossa
Date Published
June 2013
6 pages
This article describes a joint effort by the U.S. District Court for New Jersey and Rutgers University School Of Law in providing services to offenders in addressing the legal issues that impede their successful reentry after release from incarceration.
Legal issues often encountered by offenders in the course of reentry include matters related to child support, the suspension of a driver's license due to outstanding fines or unresolved traffic offenses, difficulty in obtaining various professional licenses due to criminal convictions, and impediments related to receiving various forms of Federal financial aid. Despite the resources of large law firms and the significant number of attorneys practicing in the United States, pro-bono attorneys have generally failed to address the need for free civil legal services on behalf of working-class and middle-income American families. In order to address this need in the case of offenders seeking to reintegrate into their communities, the Rutgers Federal Prisoner Reentry Project has provided legal services to nearly 100 ex-offenders under Federal supervision in the District of New Jersey. Clients referred to the program received free expert legal assistance in a variety of areas. Program staff consists of student attorneys, who receive valuable training in litigation and the role of attorneys in promoting social justice. In addition, probation/parole officers welcome having access to a legal-aid source when their clients encounter difficulties that require legal assistance. 2 case studies and 31 references