Sabrina identified and represented non-citizen survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking who have criminal convictions in their immigration matters.
Non-citizen survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence (hereinafter “survivors”) are falling through the cracks of the criminal justice system. They are being deported despite the fact they have been afforded legal protection on a local and national level. This project provided a multifaceted solution through the implementation of a screening/referral tool and training program for the public defenders at the Legal Aid Society of NYC, which fostered early identification of survivors trapped in the criminal justice system. Sabrina provided direct legal representation and holistic services to survivors who are facing deportation so that they can live independently from their abusers and traffickers, and she created survivor-centric community education materials that were distributed through the community partners of Legal Aid Society’s Domestic Violence-Immigration Practice. Furthermore, Sabrina undertook outreach at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility to further identify survivors.
In the past two years, Sabrina:
- Provided legal advice or direct legal representation to over 52 non-citizen survivors
- Identified 29 non-citizen survivors in Riker’s Island Correctional Facility who would have otherwise remained invisible in the criminal justice system
- Gave practice specific survivor identification training to over 150 attorneys at The Legal Aid Society
- Implemented a survivor identification screening tool for all borough offices at The Legal Aid Society
- Created an emergency hotline for survivors and distributed survivor centric know your rights materials
- Devised a sustainable partnership with Riker’s Island Correctional Facility to have monthly presentations to inmates and staff about domestic violence, human trafficking, and the rights of non-citizen survivors
Following her Fellowship, Sabrina continues to representing non-citizen survivors at The Legal Aid Society.
Megan is providing proactive, trauma-informed legal advocacy to justice-involved persons living with disabling mental illness in Cook County, to promote their reintegration and recovery in the community.
Many low-income persons with disabling mental impairments and trauma histories cycle between homelessness and jail. They routinely fail to access vital support services in order to live stable lives in the community. Estimated social costs associated with this population range from $35-150,000 per person per year. A stable source of income is critical to combating recidivism and improving a person’s health, welfare, and quality of life. Unfortunately, the disability process often poses insurmountable barriers to establishing eligibility for ex-offenders living with serious mental illness (SMI). Expediting access to SSI/SSDI can stabilize ex-offenders when they are most at risk of relapse and reoffending. This project will fill a gap by targeting those who are among the highest cost drivers of medical, criminal justice, and social services costs — and prioritizes access to a unique model of civil legal aid to give them a fair chance to successfully reintegrate into community life.
In the past year, Megan has:
- Developing materials and trainings for case managers and social workers on federal disability benefits.
- Undertaking full representation of individuals referred through Thresholds.
- Working to implement a pre-release agreement between Cook County Jail and local Social Security offices to expedite reinstating disability benefits post-incarceration or applying for disability benefits while incarcerated.