In Ohio, criminal records are used to deny individuals employment opportunities as well as safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, many survivors of human trafficking accrue substantial criminal records as a consequence of trafficking. Gabriel’s mission is to help these victims navigate the criminal legal system and eliminate legal barriers that have been placed upon them.
As an attorney with labor and employment experience, Gabriel has seen first-hand how criminal records can impact an individual’s effort to gain stable, rewarding employment. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Gabriel offered legal assistance and education to help survivors of human trafficking remove criminal-records-based barriers to employment and housing, utilizing Ohio’s Safe Harbor expungement laws.
I’m excited and thankful to Equal Justice Works for the opportunity to give back and help reshape our community for the better. I went to law school with the hope of becoming the type of attorney that works towards the goals I am striving to accomplish today!
Gabriel Fletcher /
Equal Justice Works Fellow
The scope of the need for legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault in Arkansas is vast. With two large universities and 16 community colleges in the service area, statistics (but not actual reporting numbers) tell us that thousands of young people in Arkansas have been victimized while attending one of the colleges. Unlike many urban areas, Arkansas does not have a robust network of nonprofit legal centers. Indeed, there are currently no organizations with a focus on providing legal representation to survivors of sexual assault, let alone one focusing on campus sexual assault. This Fellowship sought to fill that gap and initiate a concerted effort to provide comprehensive legal services to survivors.
Candice’s Fellowship took a two-prong approach to tackle the problem of campus rape and sexual assault. First, Candice built relationships with and provided educational/training opportunities to university students, faculty, and staff; private attorneys; law enforcement agencies; community-based service providers; pro bono attorneys; and other community stakeholders. Second, she provided comprehensive, culturally-competent, trauma-informed legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault.
As a former student survivor of sexual assault, Candice is personally motivated to ensure that students receive critical legal services to aid in their pursuit of justice.
DuPage County, Illinois, is home to nearly one million residents (as of 2017), the largest population of individuals outside of Cook County, Illinois. Of these individuals, 25 percent speak a language other than English (most commonly Spanish), and many are undocumented.
Kimberly served as a fellow with the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS) out of their DuPage center. By expanding the services of LAS out of their Chicago headquarters, more individuals in DuPage and surrounding areas are able to more easily access legal services. Kimberly’s work focused on serving immigrant victims of crime, helping them to navigate the increasingly convoluted immigration system to achieve stability and security by remedying their immigration status. She also worked to educate the community directly, as well as other legal and social service providers, on issues affecting immigrants, conducting “Know Your Rights” and other presentations to keep the community informed and eliminate their fear of uncertainty.
Kimberly is bilingual in Spanish and pursued a law degree in order to use her language skills in service to the Latin@ community, so that they might not be hampered by a language barrier when accessing legal services. Kimberly has dedicated her career to immigration practice and has developed a deep compassion for the immigrant community and a heart for the unique struggles they face.
Immigrant women and children survivors of crime have unique vulnerabilities and are particularly at risk in Northern California. Extreme poverty, language barriers, cultural pressures to honor the family by concealing violence and submitting to her husband’s will, lack of legal status, fear of deportation, unfamiliarity with the law, lack of safe, affordable housing, and unique legal barriers to justice cause immigrant survivors of crime in the region to have heightened vulnerability.
Rachel helped address this gap in access to justice by working with Tahirih Justice Center to provide immigrant survivors of crime with increased access to no-cost culturally competent, linguistically accessible legal services spanning screening, brief advice and representation in immigration law, as well as referrals for other critical services, and victim’s rights advocacy.
To that end, Rachel’s work focused on providing culturally competent, trauma-informed free legal services to immigrant survivors of crime seeking immigration relief in civil, immigration, and administrative proceedings. Rachel also conducted outreach and training to communities, pro bono attorneys, and community stakeholders to improve long-term community capacity to address the needs of immigrant survivors of crime.
Montana Legal Services Association is the only organization coordinating comprehensive, holistic civil legal services to crime victims in Montana, through its Victim Legal Assistance Network (VLAN) project. These services are outside the expertise of victim advocates and law enforcement, and there are few private attorneys available to assist. Crime victims may be unaware of their civil legal rights as they move through civil and criminal court processes. The rural and remote geography of Montana adds to a victim’s difficulty in finding timely and adequate resources.
Katy worked with Montana Legal Service’s Victim Legal Assistance Network to provide screening and assistance with legal advice, limited scope services, representation, advocacy, support, information, and referral to crime victims in Montana. Katy also worked with the VLAN partnership members to continue to grow and nurture a strong, comprehensive and collaborative network-wide referral process to aid crime victims in accessing services.
Katy spent the year before her Fellowship serving elderly survivors of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation at Montana Legal Services. She was be able to use her experience with elderly crime victims to serve all ages of survivors. Montana is her home state, and she is passionate about meeting the civil legal needs of survivors in her community.
This Fellowship assisted victims in navigating the complex civil and criminal legal systems. Through coordinated and collaborative efforts with community partners, the Fellowship allowed for continued network growth providing wraparound legal services. Crime victims were able to properly identify what agencies can support their unique needs and have a voice in matters of vital interest to them. Sara provided education and outreach to crime victims. Additionally, she delivered direct civil legal services and victims’ rights enforcement in criminal matters.
As a former Justice John Paul Stevens Fellow and AmeriCorps member, Sara has a demonstrated commitment to public service work. She was particularly suited for the Crime Victim Justice Corps Fellowship given her experience as a judicial law clerk. During her two years clerking, Sara worked on a case in which the judge applied the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing after the victim in an incest case went missing and she refused to testify or recant when finally located. The experience fueled Sara’s desire to assist victims of crime.
Positioned at a distinctive crossroads between local and federal governance, the District of Columbia is one of the most unique and challenging areas to meet the legal needs of victims of crime. The District is home to approximately 672,228 people with diverse backgrounds who experienced 33,000 major crimes in the last year, including sexual assaults, fraud and identity theft, hate and bias related crimes, and crimes against immigrants. Further, one in four female college students will experience sexual assault during their college tenure; the District is home to eight universities. The District’s unique demographics, use of federal prosecutors, and intersecting local systems, create unprecedented challenges for survivors.
Heba provided comprehensive legal assistance to campus sexual assault survivors, fraud and identity theft victims, survivors of hate crimes, and immigrant victims. Such legal assistance included civil legal assistance, crime victims’ rights advocacy, and Title IX representation and advocacy.
Having clerked for two Associate Judges at the District of Columbia Superior Court, Heba has a nuanced understanding of the District’s unique jurisdictional challenges During law school, Heba pioneered the development the Cyber-Violence Project, a George Washington University Law School clinical program that provides legal assistance to survivors of cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment, and non-consensual pornography. During law school, Heba served immigrant clients fleeing gender-based violence.
Survivors have a voice, but sometimes they need someone to amplify that voice. That is where I think my role is.
Heba Estafanous /
Equal Justice Works Fellow
Immigrant victims of crime in Athens-Clarke County have increased access to no-cost, culturally competent, language accessible legal services in the areas of immigration, protective orders, domestic relations law, and benefits advocacy. Immigrant victims of crime are safer and more secure in their homes and communities, and believe in the ideal of access of justice to all. Increased awareness in the immigrant community and in the community service stakeholders serving the immigrant community of the availability of legal services to immigrant victims of crime. Broadened and deepened community collaboration across law enforcement, legal services, and social services in Athens-Clarke County to effectively identify and respond to trafficking
Simone provided culturally competent, trauma-informed immigration and civil legal services to immigrant victims of crime. She also conducted outreach and training to immigrant communities, and community stakeholders. Simone is a bilingual attorney with ties to the Athens community.
Carolyn’s Fellowship reached underserved immigrant and limited English proficient populations within Indiana by providing direct legal services and conducting outreach around the state. Carolyn’s fellowship addressed many community needs. She provided direct representation to immigrant victims of crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, and represented clients in immigration and administrative proceedings including applying for continued presence, U-Visas, and T-Visas, offering advice and referrals to immigrant clients in domestic violence cases, and connecting victims to social services and other assistance.
Carolyn’s experience and community service since law school are a reflection of her goals to help vulnerable, low-income individuals. Practicing at non-profit organizations, her international background from studies abroad, and her passion for this type of work made Carolyn the right person for this Fellowship.