Blizzards and slow public transportation didn’t stop our volunteers from getting out in the community and giving back during 2015. Take a look below for highlights from the BBA’s 2015 public service efforts:
Posts Categorized: BBA Reentry Education Program
Last week, the BBA Reentry Education Program changed locations and held a session at the Coolidge House, a Residential Reentry Center for offenders under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Ashley Mann-McLellan, the Deputy Director at New Lease for Homeless Families, met with a group of probationers and case managers to give participants practical tips on navigating the affordable housing application process.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Ashley to learn more about the importance of this session. Here’s what she had to say:
“If you ask someone without a home what their most pressing need is, generally the answer is simply a home. It can be extremely daunting to try to thrive in a homeless situation; finding jobs, maximizing income, and tending to health and wellness issues can be almost impossible during a precarious housing situation. Additionally, there is no text book or simple map sheet to figure out how to obtain affordable housing; the training was so important to the audience because it provided concrete tools, directions and strategies to access affordable homes.”
Yesterday, Dan Routh (Ropes and Gray LLP) joined a group of CARE/RESTART participants at the Moakley Courthouse for this month’s Reentry Education Program session on Massachusetts Driver’s License Reinstatement. In the session, Attorney Routh described common scenarios that participants may encounter when applying for driver’s license reinstatement, and how to navigate hurdles when they appear.
Beyond the Billable caught up with Attorney Routh after the program to find out why this topic was so important to participants. Here’s what he had to say:
“Having a driver’s license is an important threshold step for so many different aspects of a person’s life, whether it’s getting to work, running day-to-day errands, or connecting with family and friends. I am happy to be part of the Reentry Education Program’s efforts to facilitate that process and help participants navigate their way on this important first step.”
Keep a look out for updates about next month’s session on employment law.
While it’s only the middle of March, it has already been a busy month for PILP 11. On Friday, March 6th, Katy Ward (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.) and Rory Pheiffer (Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP) led a civil legal education workshop on Affordable Housing for the participants in the BMC-Roxbury CHOICE program.
For our readers who may need a refresher, the current PILP class created a series of civil legal education modules on topics such as financial responsibility, public benefits, and affordable housing for state probationers in the BMC-Roxbury CHOICE program. Ward and Pheiffer outlined affordable housing for the attendees, including private and public rental options, shelter information, and the steps to take if facing eviction.
After the presentation, Beyond the Billable caught up with Ward about the importance of this topic for the CHOICE participants:
“As low-income probationers, the CHOICE participants face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to finding affordable housing. Many want to turn their lives around but that can be hard without a place to live. Our goal was to lay out the best strategies and resources for this specific age group and population, and we hope the CHOICE participants walked away with a road map for how to best secure affordable housing and the best practices for when they do finally become a tenant.”
Pheiffer elaborated by noting:
“Judge Dashiell was in attendance and took a vested interest in the presentation. For the benefit of the probationers in attendance, she asked us questions about how probationers should handle CORI requests when applying for housing. It was clear that she understood many of the difficulties probationers face when applying for housing, and wanted to make sure those in attendance left with a good level of understanding of ways to address these difficulties. ”
The PILP 11 class is scheduled to present to the CHOICE program on public benefits in April…Stay tuned!
A dozen eager participants joined BBA volunteer and experienced bankruptcy Attorney Adrienne Walker (Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC) at the Moakley courthouse for this month’s Reentry Education Program session on Financial Literacy. With the help of BBA Reentry Education Committee member Brendan T. St. Amant (Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP), Adrienne tackled the topic of credit. Throughout the session, Adrienne shared some tips with attendees about how they can become better informed consumers when choosing a bank or credit card by doing in depth research before opening up a credit account.
Beyond The Billable got in touch with Adrienne to learn why she thinks this session is particularly relevant to the participants. Here’s what she had to say:
“Learning about credit and the tools needed to build a strong credit history are vitally important to regain independence and financial security. The participants in the BBA Reentry Education Program that attended the Financial Literacy class recognized this need and were incredibly engaged and eager to learn and apply the class tools towards their own fresh start.”
To further encourage probationers to make a successful fresh start, Judge Leo Sorokin (U. S. District Court, District of Massachusetts) stopped by to emphasize the importance of taking advantage of community programs like CARE and the BBA Reentry Education Program to help make the reentry process go more smoothly.
Keep a look out for updates about next month’s session on Driver’s Licenses.
This year, the Boston Bar Association is proud to work with its eleventh Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP 11) class. Throughout the fall, PILP 11 met with members of the legal community to learn about the legal needs in Boston and how they could make a difference. After several meetings, PILP 11 decided to partner with the BBA Reentry Education Program, in which volunteer attorneys deliver civil legal education workshops to federal probationers in the CARE/RESTART Program on issues that they may face upon reentry in an effort to reduce the risk of recidivism. With support from the Reentry Education Committee, PILP 11 adapted the committee’s modules to fit the needs of probationers in state court.
As Beyond the Billable readers may know, the PILP 9 class developed what is now the Reentry Education Program. In an effort to expand the work of previous PILP classes, PILP 11 will give monthly presentations to participants in the CHOICE program at the Boston Municipal Courthouse in Roxbury. Formed in 2009, the CHOICE program utilizes a court-supervised programmatic approach to help young probationers get their lives on track through a rigorous four-pronged approach:
- intensive probation supervision with an in-court component;
- education and tutorial services;
- job training and placement; and
PILP 11 is honored to do its part to provide education programs on important civil legal education topics like employment rights, driver’s license reinstatement, financial literacy and responsibility, CORI sealing, and affordable housing.
On Friday, February 6, 2015, three PILPers made their way to Roxbury in the cold to discuss Financial Literacy and Responsibility with CHOICE participants. David Lieberman (Day Pitney LLP), Carrie Benedon (Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General), and Jenevieve Maerker (Foley Hoag LLP) covered topics from how to open a bank account to how to manage credit. Attendees asked questions and provided feedback for next month’s program.
After the presentation, Beyond the Billable caught up with PILP 11 presenter David Lieberman (Day Pitney LLP). Here’s what he had to say about presenting to the CHOICE participants:
“Presenting on Financial Literacy for the Roxbury CHOICE program was a great experience. We spoke with a number of noted experts about the topic to refine our presentation and addressed the CHOICE participants before the court session. It was a great opportunity to present an important topic in front of a group that I do not get many opportunities to address. The presentation was well received and I look forward to working with the CHOICE participants and program management going forward.”
Stay tuned for next month’s update when PILP 11 discusses housing rights and affordable housing.
Questions about PILP? Please contact Galen Byrne, Member Relationship Coordinator, at [email protected].
Courtroom 16 at the Moakley Courthouse was packed last Wednesday for the monthly civil legal workshop through the BBA Reentry Education Program. This month’s session—on landlord and tenant law—drew a large and engaged crowd. During the session, Attorney Chris Saccardi (The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi) walked participants through their rights and responsibilities as either a landlord or tenant.
Beyond the Billable reached out to him to learn more. Here’s why he thinks this topic was particularly important for the attendees:
“Most people in and around Boston are either landlords or tenants at some point in their lives. Many of the people in Wednesday’s audience indicated that they were currently homeless, and it is likely that their next step would be finding an apartment to rent. During that process, it is important for them to understand their rights as potential tenants so as to ensure that their security deposits are properly handled, their apartments are safe and sanitary, and that they know what to do should they experience a discriminatory landlord. Individuals who are struggling to reenter society after sometimes lengthy prison sentences tend to be less educated and have lower incomes than the general population – this is the sort of population that could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords. Knowing their rights as tenants in Massachusetts will hopefully be a small step toward leveling that playing field.”
Yesterday, BBA volunteers and public benefits experts Ellen Shachter (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Julie McCormick (Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School) stopped over at the Moakley courthouse for the first Community Reentry Readiness session of the New Year. As you know, volunteer attorneys are able provide probationers with legal advice to support their reentry process. This session’s topic, public benefits, proved to be a valuable subject matter to the probationers in attendance.
In an intimate roundtable discussion, the volunteers were able to address individual questions and debunk some common myths about public health and housing benefits. Ellen and Julie gave probationers tips on how to manage and negotiate the system to help them receive the max amount of benefits that they are entitled.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Ellen to learn more about the session. Here’s why she thinks this session is particularly relevant to the participants:
“As individuals transition from incarceration into the community it is critical that they are provided with the skills and information necessary to successfully obtain critical benefits such as health insurance coverage and food stamps. The BBA’s benefits workshop provided just such information to those reentering the community both through direct oral presentation and in written materials. The benefits workshop also provided a safe forum for participants to ask questions and raise concerns about their own experiences in attempting to navigate complicated benefit program requirements.”
Stay tuned for next month’s session on housing.
The BBA had another year full of public service. For a look back at our members’ work in the community, take a look at the photos below:
Image this: you’re a probationer and you’ll soon be given a chance to make a new start. You want to make the best of that opportunity, but you have questions. Can I get my license back? Can I see my children? What are my options for learning a new trade? Wouldn’t it be a relief if there was someone who could help you get started? Fortunately, there is.
The Community Reentry Readiness Program is officially underway once again. This month, Community Reentry Readiness Committee Member Raquel Webster (National Grid USA) returned to Moakley Courthouse with family law expert Brian McLaughlin (Brian McLaughlin Esq. LLC) to talk to the probationers about child support, paternity, and child custody issues.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Brian to hear more about his experience volunteering with the program. Here’s what he had to say:
“It is a privilege and an honor to present alongside Attorney Raquel Webster. Through Attorney Webster’s efforts and with help from the Public Interest Leadership Program’s members, former inmates will have a greater chance of success, thereby decreasing the recidivism rate. Information equals power. The new skills that these newly freed individuals learn through this course will give them a leg up in the outside world. It is days like this, that I’m proud to call myself a lawyer and a member of Boston’s legal community.”
Stay tuned for more on next month’s public benefits session.