2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Alexandra Roffman

Alexandra Roffman

Name of Host Organization: Cabrini Green Legal Aid
City, State: Chicago, Illinois
Issue area: Children/Youth, Women's Rights
Sponsors: Aon; Kirkland & Ellis

The Project

Alexandra will advocate for young mothers whose interaction with the criminal justice system threatens their mother-child bonds, addressing the cycle of incarceration, foster care, and violence for young women.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
When young mothers enter prison, they are very likely to have already experienced domestic violence, been a part of the foster care system, or witnessed the incarceration of a parent. Additionally, over half of all women who enter prison are mothers, the majority of whom are also the sole caretaker for their child or children. Due to strains on the parent-child relationship during incarceration, as well as a lack of resources, 14,000 children with an incarcerated parent enter foster care yearly. Because of their age, young mothers are uniquely positioned to respond positively to legal and social interventions. Alexandra’s project aims to provide targeted legal services to young mothers to help stabilize young families.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Alexandra is the right person for the project because:
• Before coming to law school, Alexandra volunteered with teen parenting and after school programs, while serving as a mentor to teenage girls in Chicago high schools
• As a ChildLaw Fellow in law school, Alexandra completed targeted coursework and legal research about representation of young people
• She completed multiple internships at public interest organizations in Chicago representing young mothers and families in juvenile delinquency, child protection, probate guardianship, adoption, and domestic relations cases
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Alexandra will:
• Develop a system of referral from existing Cabrini Green Legal Aid clients to identify young mothers
• Create case acceptance criteria and begin accepting cases for direct representation
• Create a pamphlet of services the project offers and distribute it to low-income legal service providers, probation departments, diversion programs, and social service organizations
• Create guides for currently incarcerated and recently released young parents to inform them of legal rights and remedies
• Reach out to prison facilities to establish systems of referral

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