Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $975,000)
Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Center for Justice Reform and its clinical Vermont Immigrant Assistant Project propose to implement a Justice Reform Clinic project. The purpose is to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system for crime victims and individuals impacted by, and within, punitive systems, and to improve and strengthen community-based restorative alternatives to the criminal justice system at all intercept points, from pre-charge to post-conviction, in the State of Vermont. Project activities include a merging of the Center’s expertise in criminal justice reform and restorative justice with the school’s clinical immigration services to build new, restorative, pathways for justice reform; offer clinical services focused on justice reform, immigration, and restorative approaches; to set up specific projects within the clinical context including a Restorative Pardon Process; Mitigation and Whole-Person Reporting; Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing; a Justice Reform Policy Project; trainings and community education on justice reform alternatives for Vermont communities, law enforcement, private attorneys, law students, and community justice organizations; and to provide direct legal service in immigration proceedings. Expected outcomes include improved reentry outcomes through increased clemency, reduced prison costs, and reduced burdens on law enforcement; reduced mass incarceration and the civil detention of noncitizens in Vermont; increased desistance in Vermont; and regular program assessment. Vermont-based pre- and post-sentencing justice involved residents, impacted individuals including harmed persons, and low-income noncitizens are the intended beneficiaries of the project.
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