Posts Categorized: BBA Reentry Education Program

Thank You to Reentry Committee Members and Volunteers

Last month, the BBA Reentry Education Program wrapped up their final community presentation of the spring. Since 2013, following the formation of this program by the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP), volunteers have been educating probationers and those recently incarcerated on issues faced while reentering society: driver’s license reinstatement, obtaining affordable housing and public benefits, finding employment, and more. This year, the program reached 68 individuals through workshops held at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Coolidge House, and Hope House. We value our partnership with the Court Assisted Recovery Effort (CARE) and Reentry: Empowering Successful Todays and Responsible Tomorrows (RESTART) programs of the U.S. District Court and with Coolidge and Hope House.

We’re also thankful for the dedication of the Reentry Committee for all their efforts in coordinating each workshop and working with the volunteer presenters to update the materials as necessary. The volunteers are experts in their field and provided workshop participants with invaluable information.

2016-2017 Committee Members

  • Julia Devanthéry, Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, Committee Co-Chair
  • Sarah Schendel, Irish International Immigrant Center, Committee Co-Chair
  • Brendan St. Amant, Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP
  • Raquel Webster, National Grid USA
  • Anuj Khetarpal, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Emily Hodge, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
  • Julie Heinzelman, Prince Lobel Tye LLP

2016-2017 Volunteers

  • D’Andre Fernandez, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
  • Renay Frankel, Harvard Law School
  • Lizbeth Ginsburg, Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Brian McLaughlin, McLaughlin Law, LLC
  • Benjamin Richard, Law Office of Benjamin Richard
  • Ryan Sakoda, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Basics of Affordable Housing Presented to Hope House Residents

Earlier this month, Ryan Sakoda (Committee for Public Counsel Services), spoke to the residents of Hope House, a provider of residential and outpatient treatment services for those with substance abuse disorders, about how to apply for subsidized housing in Massachusetts. For Hope House program participants, finding stable housing is crucial for success after leaving the program. Sakoda explained the types of subsidies available and the differences between mobile & project-based, state & federal, and shallow & deep subsidies. Additionally, there are numerous applications for the various types of subsidies and public housing authorities. The application process can be extensive and detailed, but there are Boston area organizations that will provide general assistance when first applying.

Sakoda also highlighted the possibility of facing discrimination when searching for an apartment. Landlords may overtly or covertly deny housing to those with housing subsidies, which if suspected, can be reported to various state organizations for investigation. Attendees were provided the contact information of the city and state departments that will investigate housing discrimination, as well as other organizations dedicated to assisting with affordable housing issues.

This workshop was the last of our program year for the BBA’s Reentry Education Committee. However, if you’re interested in joining the committee to assist with finding speakers or review presentation materials, or if you’d like to volunteer as a speaker, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Coolidge House Residents Participate in the BBA’s Reentry Education Program

The Boston Bar Association’s Reentry Education Program provides resources and information to probationers on a variety of topics. This month, residents of Coolidge House, a residential program for probationers released from federal prison, heard from Lizbeth Ginzburg (Greater Boston Legal Services) on the basics of public benefits. Attendees learned about the application process for SNAP, cash assistance programs, MassHealth, and SSI/SSDI benefits.

For many, it can be difficult to even know where to start, so the opportunity to hear about the process helps prepare those hoping to apply. Attendees discussed the challenges and myths they’ve heard surrounding various benefit programs and were provided with resource packets with information on all the programs.

If you’re interested in leading one of our Community Readiness Workshops, please email Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

Probationers Learn about Managing their CORI

At this month’s BBA Reentry Education Workshop at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, volunteers spoke to probationers about how to manage their Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). In Massachusetts, all criminal records and information is stored on an individual’s CORI and can be requested for viewing through the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS). Often potential landlords or employers will access one’s CORI during the housing or employment application process. Our presenters, D’Andre Fernandez (Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office) and Renay Frankel (Harvard Law School), instructed the attendees how to access their CORI, check it for potential mistakes, and search who has requested their CORI in the past. They also reviewed the criteria for CORI sealing and provided information on legal clinics that can assist with sealing.

Presenters D’Andre Fernandez and Renay Frankel review CORI management with the attendees.

Driver’s License Reinstatement Addressed at Reentry Education Session

This month, the BBA’s Reentry Education Program held a workshop at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts for probationers looking for guidance on reinstating their driver’s license. Benjamin Richard (Law Office of Benjamin Richard) led the presentation and reviewed the basic guidelines to reinstate one’s license. In many cases, there may be unresolved child support or parking tickets that need to be paid before it’s possible to apply for reinstatement. By outlining a three-step plan to reinstate one’s license, Richard was able to help the attendees figure out their next steps and priorities. Obtaining a driver’s license is a critical step for returning citizens who may need a car or license for employment.

The next Reentry Education workshop will focus on managing one’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).

If you’re interested in volunteering to lead a Reentry Education workshop, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].

A Year in Photos – Public Service in 2016

From teaching over 1,500 students their Miranda Rights to instituting a Bar Exam Coaching Program, 2016 was a successful year at the BBA. For highlights and our favorite photos from the year, read on to see how you and your colleagues contributed to our public services initiatives in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We're grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Over 1,000 guests attended the 2016 John and Abigail Adams Benefit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Each year, our premier fundraiser provides support for the legal services organizations in our community. We’re grateful for the over $600,000 raised in 2016.

Molly Baldwin, Executive Director of Roca, accepts the 2016 Public Service Award on behalf of the organization. Roca was recognized for their work reducing recidivism and improving employment rates for young men in Massachusetts.

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, addresses the crowd at Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Each year, hundreds of private attorneys and civil legal aid advocates converge on the Massachusetts State House to demonstrate their support for state funding of civil legal aid.

Anuj Kheterpal, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, leads a session of the Reentry Education Program at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Presenting on topics ranging from family law, affordable housing, and CORI sealing, the Reentry Education Program provides useful information and resources to probationers in our community.

The BBA’s Military and Veterans Committee works throughout the year to both address the legal needs of our veterans community and also provide a space for attorneys who have served or are serving in the military the chance to connect. Luncheons held throughout the year provide an informal, conversational means for veteran attorneys to connect.

One of the most anticipated events of the year is always the BBA’s Casino Night for Summer Jobs. Inside the BBA, the rooms are transformed into a functioning casino spaces for guests to enjoy throughout the building. All proceeds from the event support our Summer Jobs program. Specifically, donations allow high school students the opportunity to work at legal services organizations, courts, and government agencies that may not otherwise have the resources to hire a student.

For over ten years, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy program has taught high school students financial responsibility. Above, students from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School visit Judge Joan N. Feeney’s courtroom to learn the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.

Members of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows gaze at an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts last spring. The Society of Fellows is a group of over 400 attorneys who’ve pledged their support for the BBA’s public service initiatives.

An active group within the BBA, the New Lawyers Public Service Committee plans nearly monthly volunteer events for attorneys to give back to their community through direct service. Here, BBA volunteers are working with the Charles River Watershed Association to clean-up the banks of the Charles River.

As part of the annual Law Day activities each spring, the BBA hosts its Law Day in the Schools program through which attorney volunteers introduce students in kindergarten to 12th grade to the legal profession and legal issues. In 2016, Law Day in the Schools focused on Miranda Rights, which seemed especially to resonate with students during a year marked by discussion of the balance of power between law enforcement and citizens.

At the 2016 Law Day Dinner, former BBA President Jack Regan, WilmerHale, was presented the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment to public service. Regan has tirelessly worked to support pro bono services for military personnel, veterans, and their families.

The John G. Brooks Legal Services Award was presented at Law Day Dinner to Daniel Nagin, founder of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Nagin also helped start the Low Income Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

Pairings: A Gourmet Evening for Public Service supports all of the public service programs of the BBA. Guests of the event are treated to delicious dishes from area restaurants while learning about the programs their contribution supports.

Throughout the year, the BBA hosts numerous pro bono trainings on a range of practice areas. We partner with many legal services organizations to connect our members to their pro bono opportunities. Above, attorneys lead a training on how to volunteer for the Family Law Court Clinic at the Court Service Center.

Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge addresses the audience at the BBA’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program. The symposium focused on restorative justice initiatives in the Commonwealth as particularly related to the state’s youth. This event was the culmination of the 12th Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class’ 14-month program. PILP promotes civic engagement and public service by advancing the leadership roles of new lawyers. Throughout the program, the class examines various issues facing our community and concludes with a symposium of entirely their design.

Summer is a beloved time at the BBA because it means that law firms, courts, government agencies, and legal services organizations across the city will host high school student interns as part of our Summer Jobs Program. Students gain valuable insight into the legal profession and office work experience as they intern during their summer break. Students are also provided Enrichment Seminars, which enhance their experience and provide exposure to various legal careers, the workings of the Supreme Judicial Court, and more.

Janet Bostwick, Janet E. Bostwick, PC, was acknowledged this past year for her devotion to the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. Bostwick was appointed head of the Financial Literacy Committee by her dear and late friend, M. Ellen Carpenter in 2004 and has since grown the program to teach over 500 students a year. Bostwick stepped down from the Committee after 12 years and we’re thankful for her service.

Law students and attorneys met with various legal services organizations and government agencies as they browsed the Pro Bono Fair & Open House in October. The event draws scores of people each year and provides organizations the chance to attract new volunteers.

BBA President Carol Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP, meets with Katy Buckland, principal of UP Academy Boston. The BBA President participates in Principal for a Day each year to gain insight into the day-to-day activities of the students many of our public service programs impact.

 

Thank you for a wonderful year, we can’t wait to kickoff 2017 with you!

Thank You to Our Reentry Education Volunteers

We’d like to thank our 2016 BBA Reentry Education Program volunteers for donating their time to educate probationers on how to navigate various civil-legal issues faced when reentering society. This year, volunteers addressed over 150 probationers on issues related to employment law, obtaining housing, reinstating a driver’s license, CORI sealing, public benefits, finances, and family law. The BBA partnered with the Court Assisted Recovery Effort (CARE) and Reentry: Empowering Successful Todays and Responsible Tomorrows (RESTART) programs of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, the CHOICE program in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, and Hope House and Coolidge House, community partners serving the probation population.

We’re thankful for our volunteers:

Michael Birch, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP

Lizbeth Ginsburg, Greater Boston Legal Services

Julie Heinzelman, Prince Lobel Tye LLP

Anuj Khetarpal, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

David Lieberman, Day Pitney LLP

Brian McLaughlin, Brian McLaughlin Esq. LLC

Kavya Naini, Harvard Law School

Ryan Sakoda, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Phong Tran, Harvard Law School

 

Click here to read more about the program and if you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]ar.org.

BBA Volunteer Leads Reentry Education Sessions on Housing

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Ryan Sakoda, a Liman Public Interest Fellow at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, does a lot of work with defendants in the midst of a dispute over housing. As an attorney working in the public defender’s office in Boston, he frequently works to help clients who are facing eviction or who are having a hard time finding affordable housing because of a criminal record.

That’s why he wanted to volunteer to teach a session for the BBA’s Reentry Education program. During two recent sessions, Sakoda spoke to federal probationers and CHOICE participants about their options for getting into public housing in spite of their history.

“Many people that have contact with the criminal justice system are low-income, and so a lot of them do rely on housing assistance,” Sakoda said. “In order to move on with your life, housing is really the foundation to regain some stability and get past the contact with the criminal justice system.”

Sakoda said many of those with a criminal record get discouraged and do not apply for public housing, because they have heard about the difficulties from other people in a similar position or because they have applied before and been denied. During the training, Sakoda covered an applicant’s right to appeal the decision if they are denied housing, a step that he said many people do not take.

“The truth is that there just aren’t enough public interest lawyers to fully represent all the people that need this kind of legal assistance. That’s why I feel it’s so important that the BBA and other organizations put on these informational programs,” Sakoda said.

Volunteers Reflect on Reentry Education Sessions

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At the BBA, one of our public service initiatives focuses on helping probationers to understand the complex world of legal and financial obligations they’ll be met with when their sentence is up. Two longtime volunteers with the BBA’s Reentry Education program, David W.S. Lieberman and Brian McLaughlin, caught up with Beyond the Billable to talk about their most recent educational sessions.

Liberman, a former PILP member and Associate at Day Pitney LLP, led a session on financial literacy and responsibility for participants of the CHOICE program in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court.

CHOICE is an intensive probation supervision program in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court. CHOICE offers young adult probationers the opportunity to pursue either educational or vocational goals as an alternative to incarceration.

Lieberman spoke on a range of topics, from including how to open a bank account, track your spending, and understand credit reports and ratings.

“It’s really important to help people understand the building blocks to achieving financial stability particularly how credit ratings are used to make decisions about things like housing and employment.  These concepts are very rarely taught in school and it is vital that people understand them especially as they are trying to get their lives back on track,” Lieberman said. “I am always energized by the level of engagement during these sessions and I am grateful for the opportunity to present to the CHOICE participants.”

The session was part of the BBA’s Reentry Education Program, which aims to help probationers successfully undergo a new beginning.

Our volunteer attorneys also work with probationers in the Federal District Court’s CARE/RESTART program, and McLaughlin, a former PILP member of Brian McLaughlin, Esq. LLC, recently led a presentation on family law. He spoke to a group about navigating complex issues like child support, paternity and custody issues.

“I honestly look forward to this event every year. I always learn something from the audience that I would’ve never thought of. Each year that I do the presentation, I come away with a renewed perspective of family law,” McLaughlin said. “This year’s presentation was among the most interactive and I cannot wait to see what next year’s group brings.”

BBA Reentry Education Program Kicks Off 2016 Season

Anuj Khetarpal (Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General) presented on reinstating your driver’s license to participants in the CARE/RESTART program at the Federal Court last Wednesday.

Anuj Khetarpal (Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General) presented on reinstating your driver’s license to participants in the CARE/RESTART program at the Federal Court last Wednesday.

The BBA is once again holding civil legal workshops for probationers in the CARE/RESTART Program at the Federal Court and CHOICE Program at Boston Municipal Court in Roxbury. As you may remember, the PILP class created this initiative with CARE/RESTART in 2012, and last year’s PILP class expanded the program to the CHOICE Program.

Last week, Anuj Khetarpal (Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General) presented on reinstating your driver’s license to participants in the CARE/RESTART program at the Federal Court, while Michael Birch (Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP) and Julie Heinzelman (Prince Lobel Tye LLP) headed to Boston Municipal Court in Roxbury to teach participants in the CHOICE program about employment law.

Michael Birch (Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP) presented on employment law to the CHOICE participants last Friday.

Michael Birch (Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP) presented on employment law to the CHOICE participants last Friday.

Here’s why our presenters think employment law and reinstating your driver’s licenses are important topics for probationers:

Michael Birch: I think obtaining and maintaining steady, productive employment is a critical part of re-entering society.  Hopefully, being educated and aware of their rights and obligations as applicants and employees will help them obtain and maintain such employment.

Anuj Khetarpal: Reinstating your driver’s license is an important topic for probationers because it helps probationers rebuild their lives. It is a helpful, and sometimes necessary, step in order for the probationers to get a job, support themselves and their families, and to build lives for themselves. Resultantly, these steps help probationers stay out the criminal justice system and give them an opportunity to become productive members of the community.

Do you need extra motivation to get involved in the BBA Reentry Education Program? Look below for insight into why you should volunteer for the program:

Michael Birch: A little support, education and knowing that the community cares can make a meaningful difference in probationers’ lives.

Anuj Khetarpal: The BBA Reentry Education Program is a valuable tool for probationers to smoothly transition back in to society. As attorneys, we have a moral obligation to better our communities, and giving probationers a fair chance at reentry is a vital way to do that. The program not only benefits the probationers, but our community as a whole, and is an important step to reduce recidivism and help those who could use an open hand.

If you are interested in reentry efforts, don’t miss the BBF’s upcoming John and Abigail Adam’s Benefit featuring this year’s honoree, Roca. Roca works to reduce recidivism and improve employment among a population of young men at high risk of reoffending in Boston, Chelsea and Springfield. Roca will be honored during the event, and the Foundation will donate $25,000 in support of Roca’s mission. Click here to learn more about the event.