Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $632,000)
Seton Hall University: Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice
Community-Based Reentry and Support Services
The Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice proposes to implement a reentry project that addresses the needs of communities impacted by the criminal legal system. The purpose is to help people in Essex County, New Jersey address legal issues related to their ability to secure a job, health care, housing, and other essential needs upon return to the community after incarceration. Materials will be developed, such as online tools, to help people assess their legal needs and pursue remedies available to them that facilitate reintegration. A key aspect of the proposal is the use of a mobile legal lab with laptops, printers, and internet access which will be available in community centers, in houses of worship, or at other public gathering spaces to facilitate work in the community. In addition, partnering with community and grassroots organizations, students and attorneys with the Criminal Defense and Community Advocacy Clinic will support the community in developing an active participatory defense practice. The project focuses on developing a structure and tools to support the building of power within communities to advocate inside and outside the criminal legal system, and to create enduring and transformative social change about the broader issues that impact community members’ lives and futures. Initial research will determine the legal and support services that would have the most impact. Expected outcomes include the development of participatory defense hubs in Newark, New Jersey and the provision of community education and legal services related to reentry and the criminal legal system.