2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Maya Dimant Lentz

Maya Dimant Lentz

City, State: Evanston, Illinois
Issue area: Children/Youth, Criminal Law
Sponsors: DLA Piper

The Project

Maya will break the school to prison pipeline for minority students in Evanston through community-based representation, restorative justice skills-building workshops in schools, and leveraging local resources.

The Inspiration

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Need Addressed By Project: 
Schools that should be community centers for educating our children are instead becoming gateways to incarceration, portals to a racist and overzealous criminal justice system. This school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately affects the high percentage of minority and low-income children in Evanston. This project will offer innovative solutions based on integrated social work and legal services to create a replicable model for disrupting the cycle.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Maya is the right person for the project because:
• She is passionate about building comprehensive, holistic, personalized solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
• She has extensive experience advocating to end overincarceration and improve prison conditions, so she is eager to   get started working to close the pipeline from the front end
• She loves working with teenagers and has extensive experience working with 3-22 year olds
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Maya will:
• Begin direct representation of children in criminal, school discipline, and special education cases
• Meet with restorative justice practioners in Cook County to share ideas/models
• Design and initiate middle/high school VIP using restorative justice techniques
• Identify potential community partners and meet with at least 5 community organizations about client referrals and   potential partnerships

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