Section Description Provided by Instructor
Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration is a clinic that will focus on litigation in federal court and resolution of claims related to prisoners' conditions of confinement. Students will visit clients in state and federal prisons where they will interview, counsel and develop strategies. In collaboration with non-profit organizations and small civil rights law firms and subject to the law student intern rules, clinic students will litigate issues identified by the clients.
Although the identification of cases will be done collaboratively with the clients, projects may include a federal habeas action on behalf of a state prisoner raising an actual innocence claim and conditions claims from MDC Brooklyn. It is anticipated that claims related to medical care and mental health will become part of the clinic's docket. Students will continue to work with the community and the New York City Probation Department in an effort to eliminate barriers to successful reentry.
To prepare for this work, students will read and discuss writings about punishment theory, the history of American prisons and the substantive law governing prisoners' rights. To develop the skills they will need to work with clients, students will participate in intensive simulated interview exercises. Other legal skills, including counseling, negotiation, oral argument, preparation of pleadings, briefs and other litigation related writing will be taught and acquired in the context of client representation. Students will be encouraged to raise, reflect on and discuss relevant issues of professional responsibility that arise in work with confined, indigent clients.
TR 1:20-4:10 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Learning Outcome Goals
- Students will read and discuss the demographics of incarceration in the United States. They will learn about the impact of criminal justice policy on communities with particular attention to the disparate impact in racial and socio-economic terms.
- Students will learn about the consequences of these policies and the conditions of incarceration through direct representation of prisoners housed in state and federal prisons in New York and Connecticut.
- Students will learn the basic tools of litigation challenging conditions of confinement through seminar readings and discussion and through research targeted at achieving the goals of their individual clients.
- Students will develop their interview and oral presentation skills both through class discussion and during interactions (client interviews, negotiation with opposing parties, etc.) necessary to advance their clients' goals.
- Strengthen legal research and writing skills. This will occur through a combination of investigation of potential legal tools, by writing legal and factual memoranda and by writing both advice and legal demand letters in connection with client work.
- Students will learn the basics of factual investigation, including document review and analysis.