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Melissa Legge

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Melissa Legge

Melissa Legge

Name of Host Organization: Earthjustice
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Environmental Justice
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Protect prisoners from environmental threats by compelling public agencies to consider prisoners’ health and safety in environmental decisionmaking and remedy existing sources of toxic exposure.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Federal agencies are required to identify and avoid disproportionately adverse human health or environmental effects on low-income populations and people of color. Yet two such communities are consistently ignored: prisoners and immigration detainees. As a result of this neglect, prisons and detention centers often have severe environmental problems.
The Right Person For This Project
Melissa is the right person for the project because:
• She studied environmental policy and science at the Yale School of Forestry, earning a Master’s of Environmental Management Jointly with her law degree.
• Before law school, she worked as a grassroots organizer and trainer, skills that will be helpful in bringing together advocates from diverse causes.
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Melissa will:
• Research the applicability of environmental law to prisons and detention centers, and develop advocacy and litigation strategies.
• Bring together environmental, prisoners’ rights, and immigrants rights’ experts to help build a coalition to address these environmental problems.
• Begin developing materials and capacity-building workshops to equip prisoners’ and immigrants’ rights advocates to identify and address environmental threats