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

Break the school to prison pipeline for minority students in Evanston with community-based representation, restorative justice skills-building workshops in schools, and by leveraging local resources for collaborative re-entry support.

The Inspiration

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.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Maya has:
• Given more than 60 conflict resolution/know your rights educational sessions to young adults in the community
• Become a trained mediator and restorative justice circle keeper
• Represented her own juvenile clients in criminal proceedings, and won multiple felony trials
• Developed and implemented a restorative justice based elementary school discipline curriculum, and a re-entry based conflict-resouluation training toolkit
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Maya plans to:
• Continue working to improve the lives of marginalized populations through holistic community-based interventions and legal representation
• Fight for resources and services for under-served communities and clients

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