The clinic helps people transition from prison back into society by offering legal representation and connections to other resources and services such as community education.
The clinic also gives Mitchell Hamline students real-world legal experience. Under the supervision of faculty and experienced attorneys, students assist the clinic’s clients with a host of legal matters, including family law, criminal record expungement, and civil rights lawsuits. Students interview clients, draft pleadings, and appear in court with their clients.
“More than 8,000 people are released from prison in Minnesota every year, and thousands more are released from local facilities,” said Peter Knapp, Mitchell Hamline’s interim president and dean. “But being out of lockup doesn’t mean you’re not locked out. Formerly incarcerated individuals face great barriers, many of them legal. This grant will enable us to expand the clinic’s representation and support as our clients navigate legal and other challenges that people face as they return home.”
The Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations also awarded a nearly $40,000 grant to fund SEEN, a project to collect portraits, audio, written works, and video of people in prison.
Eric J. Jolly, president and CEO of the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations, said both projects are aligned with the foundation’s key strategies: advocating for equity and investing in community-led solutions.
“The Mitchell Hamline Law School Reentry Clinic and the SEEN project are both working to make reentry less difficult and more equitable, and to humanize justice-impacted people, by tackling barriers and sharing narratives about what it means to be incarcerated. We are honored to support the innovative work of both organizations,” Jolly said.