Bethan Eynon

  • Hosted by Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Sponsored by AmeriCorps, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Service location Durham, North Carolina
  • Issue area Criminal Records Relief, Employment
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program AmeriCorps Fellows Program

The Project

Bethan works on Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Clean Slate Project, which collaborates with community partners to provide direct reentry legal services for expungements and Certificates of Relief for dismissed charges and convictions across the state of North Carolina.

Today in the United States, about 1.6 million people are currently in prison; 4 million are on probation; and nearly 65 million have a criminal record. In the South, the prison population has grown faster than in any other region. Criminal justice is therefore a critically important issue–particularly so for communities of color.
Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are formidable and often insurmountable barriers to successful reentry. They include disenfranchisement; denial of public employment and benefits; loss of professional licenses; and deportation. Southern states have more legal barriers to successful reentry than other regions of the country. According to a report by the Legal Action Center, which ranked all 50 states from best to worst based on the number of legal obstacles faced by people attempting to renter society, most of the southern states were ranked in the worst category, meaning they had the greatest number of roadblocks to reentry.
The entrenched criminal justice system is in urgent need of widespread reform. SCSJ’s Clean Slate Project is just a small piece of the overall effort to end mass incarceration and the overcriminalization of people of color. By providing community requested legal services to address collateral consequences, lawyers help directly affected people to obtain jobs and housing and ultimately join in community organizing efforts for change.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Bethan’s Fellowship, Bethan:

  • Filed petitions in over 30 of the 100 NC counties
  • Argued petitions in 7 counties
  • Held 5 legal services clinics in 4 counties
  • Engaged local court actors, including DAs, PDs, judges, and clerks, in learning about the Clean Slate Project and collateral consequences
  • Developed a case management system and recruited and trained 12 law school interns and community volunteers to expand caseload capacity while maintaining high quality service for clients
  • Continued providing direct legal services by holding 3 clinics
  • Expanded filing Certificate of Relief and expunction petitions to at least 10 other counties
  • Collaborated with partner organizations to challenge private landlords in denying housing to those with criminal records and Certificates of Relief
  • Challenged at the state appellate level several trial court denials of Certificates of Relief and expunction petitions.

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Sponsor: AmeriCorps, Colorado Juvenile Defender Center

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Host: Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Sponsor: AmeriCorps, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Johanna Zacarias

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Sponsor: AmeriCorps, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services

Jenn Pence

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Sponsor: AmeriCorps, Legal Aid Society of Louisville