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Maggie Yates

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Maggie Yates

Maggie Yates

Name of Host Organization: Legal Aid Justice Center
City, State: Charlottesville, Virginia
Issue area: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Maggie will provide community education, legal representation, and policy advocacy in order to challenge facets of Virginia’s criminal justice system that trap low-income Virginians in a downward spiral of debt and incarceration.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Virginia’s criminal justice system subjects poor defendants to excessive bail and arbitrary court fines and fees. Imposing even greater barriers to financial and social stability, some counties re-arrest indigent defendants for failing to pay court fines and fees. Other counties extend probation sentences. Together, these policies effectively criminalize poverty, deepening defendants’ financial instability and increasing their likelihood of future involvement with the criminal justice system.
The Right Person For This Project
Maggie is the right person for the project because:
• She has spent the last seven years working on and studying issues related to the criminalization of poverty
• She has a demonstrated commitment to working with communities in order to eliminate the unfair burdens criminal courts impose upon them
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Maggie will:
• Build relationships with defendants, impacted community members, and community leaders
• Develop curriculum and conduct regular know-your-rights clinics
• Represent individuals challenging the assessment and collection of court debt