JAC first went virtual to provide our legal services to people with criminal records during COVID-19, but found that lack of internet and cell phone access were barriers for too many people. Now we are taking it OUTSIDE! We piloted an outdoor reentry legal clinic, with all CDC precautions, in October and it was a huge success. Now we want to convert all our clinics to outdoor, including for expungements and conviction fees. Our in-person clinics provide one-on-one legal advice to the community.
JAC envisions a just society where all individuals have affordable access to necessary legal and social services. The lack of access for incarcerated populations to appropriate services in the post-conviction phase of the criminal justice system and the lack of support for a positive reentry of people previously incarcerated are contrary to notions of fairness and justice. To these ends, JAC has three goals for supporting a just community.
For 9 months, JAC has not been able to provide our legal services on a regular basis to formerly incarcerated people returning to our community. Nonetheless, people are released from prisons and jails every day and their legal problems continue. In fact, their legal obstacles to reentry success are exacerbated by court and administrative agency closures. JAC is doing as much as we can over the phone and we tried virtual (Zoom) clinics, but lack of access to internet dampened participation.
When Louisiana fgets in the clear from COVID-19, the economy will look very different. Entry-level positions will be difficult to obtain for many people, and this will be even harder for people with a criminal record or with garnishments like child support to their paychecks. By providing in-person, physically distant, legal clinics to our community, JAC hopes to prepare people with convictions for the post-COVID economy by assisting them with eliminating legal barriers to successful reentry.
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