Remi (she/her/hers) will advance advocacy for children in adult prisons serving life without parole sentences in Louisiana to: (1) improve prison conditions; (2) ensure education and rehabilitation; and (3) develop mitigation.
Despite legal and cultural change, Louisiana routinely condemns children to life without parole. Under recent changes to Louisiana law, some juveniles originally sentenced to life without parole could become eligible for parole hearings, providing an opportunity for release after serving twenty-five years in prison. A child’s success navigating the prison environment is critical to their parole hearing outcome. Remi’s project is designed to provide the necessary structural support to children navigating the adult prison environment and ensuring access to education, self-improvement, and rehabilitation programs.
Remi is inspired to do this work because this is home. “The work of juvenile justice is what I want. And the people of Louisiana are who I want to do it with.”
The overarching goal of this Fellowship project is to ensure that juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) clients are treated humanely and in recognition of the fact that they are, or were, children while incarcerated. Remi will provide legal and informal advocacy for clients while incarcerated to ensure their humane treatment and increase their likelihood of success in their eventual parole hearings. The strategies for achieving this goal will include: (1) providing civil legal and administrative advocacy to incarcerated JLWOP clients, (2) creating a practitioner’s guide for incarceration-based lawyering, and (3) administering Know Your Rights seminars.
Vanessa will support socially and economically vulnerable seniors in the rural areas of Palm Beach and Hendry Counties in Florida, by providing assistance through direct legal services, outreach, and education.
Since graduating from law school, Vanessa has worked tirelessly to help economically disadvantaged communities. Her first job at Legal Aid involved helping victims of domestic violence who could not afford a private attorney in the areas of family law including, but not limited to, divorce and paternity actions. The biggest challenge of that project was when the victim was still financially dependent on the abusive party and cohabitation existed between the parties. Vanessa assisted her clients in getting injunctions, alimony, child support, and resolving any property disputes. It is the kind of work that makes her feel proud of what she does.
Vanessa’s project aims to reduce older individuals’ susceptibility to crimes of financial fraud, exploitation, and abuse through trainings and outreach, and to remedy the deleterious effects of these crimes when they do occur by advocating for victims’ rights and providing full-scope representation when needed. Vanessa’s outreach activities will focus on rural underserved communities throughout the two-county service area and will include presentations and distribution of brochures and flyers at senior community centers.
Daniela is creating a comprehensive immigration advocacy program in North Florida to serve immigrants who are low-income and/or crime victims and is establishing immigration protocols, procedures, and resources for Legal Services of North Florida staff and community partners.
North Florida lacks the institutional memory of a central advocacy organization doing the hard work of outreach to both immigrant communities and service agencies. The Florida panhandle has a huge agricultural and tourism presence, two industries that draw immigrants in vast numbers. There is a great need for both free legal help for low-income immigrants and trainings for agencies serving this population, especially in today’s environment of rapidly changing immigration policies.
Daniela, a current DACA recipient, knows what it is like to have your life shifted by fear and uncertainty because of the broken immigration system. Her personal and professional experience working with marginalized communities has instilled an altruistic spirit that makes her uniquely suited for this Fellowship.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
In the past year, Daniela has:
- Provided full representation to over 20 immigrant clients and brief services, advice, and/or referrals to an additional 45 individuals
- Secured the deferred action waitlist for three U-visa clients after supplementing their pending petitions
- Conducted Legal Services of North Florida’s first-ever immigration legal clinic in Tallahassee
- Provided eight community education and outreach presentations, reaching over 900 community members
- Delivered 19 presentations to other service providers, allies, and LSNF attorneys in all five offices
- Collaborated with over 45 groups and attended over 130 coalition-building meetings to expand the reach and impact of the project
- Collaborated with local advocacy organizations to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine for the immigrant community in Tallahassee
In the next year, Daniela plans to:
- Collaborate with the Gender and Family Justice Clinic to facilitate a Guardianship clinic for immigrant victims of crime to learn about the Power of Attorney and what to do if they get picked up by ICE
- Conduct trainings with guidance counselors and social workers in high schools in the second judicial circuit to provide assistance and information for their non-citizen students regarding higher education
- Co-present two CLE trainings on immigration and human trafficking for local attorneys
Through LAMMP, I will provide dependent and delinquent teen mothers with holistic direct representation, systemic relief through litigation and education. I will represent teen moms on issues such as dependency hearings, family law and child support, domestic violence injunctions, and more. Systemically, I will provide relief to teen moms aging out of foster care and advocate for dependency placements that effectively meet the needs of the teen mother and child. Lastly, I will provide advocacy literature to teen moms and service providers.
Thousands of men, women and children arrive in Florida as victims of trafficking each year. Unfortunately, advocacy throughout Florida for those victims is sparse. Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) in Miami has developed a technique of collaborating with social service providers, law enforcement and other agencies to provide holistic representation to clients. This project will adapt that model to provide well-rounded services to victims of trafficking throughout all of Florida.
Summer Griggs provided free civil legal services to low-income, eligible clients in seventeen counties of North Florida. The focus of Summer’s projects center on the initiation of clinics and community outreach presentations. Summer assisted clients with common legal problems such as the attainment of a divorce, expungement of a criminal record, and landlord/tenant disputes.
Kristin advocated for Little Haiti residents, businesses, and organizations and work to mitigate the effects of gentrification by helping them to effectively participate in decisions impacting the development of their community.
Little Haiti is a 3.5-mile area in central Miami with 108,000 residents. It is gentrifying faster than any neighborhood in South Florida, and Little Haiti residents are at risk of exploitation and displacement. The project protects the interests of Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood during ongoing gentrification by working towards the creation of new housing for Little Haiti residents, hiring local residents to fill new jobs, designating a cultural district to preserve heritage, and creating Community Benefit Agreements.
In the past two years, Kristin has:
- Provided full representation to 20 clients and brief services and advice to an additional 86 clients
- Successfully negotiated on behalf of a community coalition of Little Haiti stakeholders focused on mitigating the effects of gentrification and development, securing a community benefits agreement of $6 million as well as other benefits that preserve and enhance Little Haiti’s unique cultural and historical aesthetic
- Drafted corporate formation documents and incorporated a community coalition to become a registered nonprofit
- Assisted several nonprofits in obtaining 501(c)(3) status
- Represented entrepreneurs in Little Haiti looking to form their businesses in order to promote community economic development
- Defended small businesses and individuals facing commercial and residential evictions
- Delivered 22 educational presentations in the community, reaching over 1600 people
Kristin will continue to advocate for marginalized communities utilizing the legal skills developed during her Fellowship.