Prison Reentry Strategies addresses the problem of persistent unemployment for most of the 670,000 adults released from state and federal prisons each year. This situation undercuts the goals of the American justice system including rehabilitation and reduced recidivism. Clinic students conduct research and assist the Director in efforts to bring about meaningful reform in a criminal justice system resistant to change.
Student opportunities commence with an introduction to sentencing law and policies and their impact on a convicted person's ability to obtain employment through directed readings; visits to programs at a prison or the Cook County jail; and meetings with business people who hire returning prisoners, Illinois corrections officials, representatives of civic organizations and advocacy organizations.
Students then focus on individual and team projects. Examples of recent projects include: identification and advocacy for changes in policies and practices which would reduce legal or functional barriers to employment; development of recommendations for modifications to business tax credit and of other programs intended to provide incentives for businesses to train or hire returning prisoners; change in rules and regulations governing prison industries; development of recommendations for changes in the administration of the federal Second Chance Act and other federally-funded reentry programs; and, development of innovative reentry program models that advance prisoner reentry, entrepreneurship and job development in under resourced communities together with changes in law, corrections policies and programs necessary to support those models.
Course requirements include participation in weekly seminars; visits and meetings relevant to the student's project; and completion of either a one 8-16 page paper addressing a substantive issue in prisoner reentry or completion of an advocacy-oriented research paper for attributed publication.
Details of the fall and spring curriculum will be determined early summer of each year. Students interested in this coursework should contact Malcolm Young with questions at any time.