UA Law School Students Work With Alabama Board Of Pardons And Paroles And U.S. Attorney To Assist Ex-Offenders
TUSCALOOSA – The Public Interest Law Institute of the University of Alabama School of Law is beginning a monthly legal service project to assist individuals under the supervision of the Tuscaloosa office of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Law students will hold the first legal clinic on Tuesday. The students will compile intake reports and send them to volunteer lawyers and local community service programs. Issues most likely to be addressed include child support, identification, employment assistance and housing.
Annually, more than 3,000 Alabamians on community supervision fail to successfully reenter society after being released from prison. People who violate conditions of probation or parole comprise 40 percent of the Alabama Department of Corrections' annual admissions.
Cynthia Dillard, executive director of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles stated, “The Board of Pardons and Paroles is excited about this opportunity to partner with University of Alabama Law School volunteers to assist offenders with addressing some of the significant barriers to successful supervision and reentry. This program will serve as a model for other jurisdictions in Alabama with similar resources.”
Ex-offenders reentering society routinely encounter barriers to accessing housing, education, employment, healthcare, transportation, and community support services. Ninety-five percent of Alabama’s 30,000 inmates will eventually be released into communities.
Since 2010, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and the North Alabama Reentry Council have been working with federal, state and community agencies to improve reentry outcomes for ex-offenders within Alabama. The council has focused on identifying both barriers to reentry and resources available to ex-offenders, and addressing gaps in services.
“We have to be smart on crime as well as tough on crime," Vance said. "Providing the guidance ex-offenders need to return to productive lives will make our communities safer and help reduce the high rate of overcrowding in our prisons that is stressing state budgets. The Tuscaloosa clinic will help ex-offenders overcome barriers to reentry, for instance helping them regain their driver’s licenses so they can get a job," she said. "This is the essence of being smart about how our criminal justice system can work.”
If you have questions about the legal clinic, or if you believe your organization has expertise or resources that could improve outcomes for ex-offenders re-entering society, please e-mail the U.S. Attorney’s Office community outreach coordinator at Jeremy.Sherer@usdoj.gov, or call 205-244-2019.