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Stephanie Ciupka

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Stephanie Ciupka

Stephanie Ciupka

Name of Host Organization: Lawndale Christian Legal Center
City, State: Chicago, Illinois
Issue area: Criminal Law
Sponsors: Latham & Watkins

The Project

I will launch a dedicated emerging-adults criminal defense practice to provide restorative legal and social services to underserved court-involved emerging-adults in North Lawndale.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
New research tells us 18-26 year olds are not subject to the same formal social controls as younger adolescents, nor have they developed the informal social controls that come with family responsibilities and stable employment. These features of emergent adulthood exacerbate other risk factors like poverty, residential segregation, neighborhood disadvantage and a lack of economic or geographic mobility—all of which present challenges to individuals growing up in North Lawndale.
The Right Person For This Project

Stephanie is the right person for the project because:
• She believes strongly that every individual appearing in criminal court deserves not only high-quality representation, but to be seen not as just a case, but as a whole person
• Throughout law school she gained relevant experience in criminal court, working with LCLC, the Northwestern Bluhm Legal Clinic, and the Cook County Public Defender

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

In the first six months, Stephanie will:
• Provide direct representation to existing LCLC clients to develop further knowledge of substantive law and procedures
• Conduct intakes with new clients and begin providing direct legal representation to new emerging-adult clients
• Strengthen relationships with LCLC social workers and partner organizations in the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Hub, to provide holistic and restorative representation
• Develop a training program for pro bono attorneys specific to the representation of emerging adults