Duquesne University School of Law

Juvenile Defender and Education Law Clinics receive Pittsburgh Foundation grant

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

 

The Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded Duquesne University School of Law $25,000 to support the work of two clinical programs in Pittsburgh communities.

The Juvenile Defender Clinic and Education Law Clinic will use the funds to assist families in “navigating and disrupting school-to-prison pipelines.” As part of the juvenile justice program, the clinics will organize year-round workshops to educate families about their children’s educational and juvenile justice rights as well as to represent clients in education-related litigation. Additionally, the funds will be used to help pay restitution and court costs for clients whose financial obligations are prolonging their supervision by the juvenile justice system.

Professor Tiffany Sizemore-Thompson proposed the project and will supervise the law students.

“We are grateful to the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Giving Circle for funding this outreach project,” says Sizemore-Thompson. “Both clinics are already at work serving Pittsburgh families from the Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education.  As a result of this grant, we will be able both to expand the walk-in hours at the Uptown office and assist clients right in their communities.”

“We are seeing a great need among families, and this grant will help us increase our visibility among youths and the families who need us the most.”

Sizemore-Thompson says she is particularly grateful that the funds can be used to assist clients in paying courts costs and restitution.

“There is significant empirical evidence that prolonged supervision or unnecessary juvenile justice programming is detrimental to the rehabilitation of a young person. Children should not be stuck on probation simply because they don’t have the money to pay fines or restitution.”

The Juvenile Defender Clinic represents children who are charged with delinquency offenses in juvenile court and those who need to have juvenile records expunged. The Education Law Clinic supports families in school disciplinary matters, including alternative education placements and suspension and expulsion hearings. The clinics both provide holistic representation, that is they use a team approach, offering educational psychology and social service assistance provided by doctorate-level students, in addition to legal services.

The new funding will allow the two clinics to provide these services and others on site as well as organize educational programs on:

  • Due process rights in school discipline and special education cases;
  • Access to special education services;
  • What happens after an individual is charged in juvenile court;
  • Interacting safely with law enforcement;
  • Developing an effective lawyer-client relationship;
  • and other topics.

Duquesne Law is currently working in Housing Authority of Pittsburgh locations, thanks to a Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and other funders.  

Duquesne Law will announce in February the locations and schedule of on-site services supported by the Pittsburgh Foundation grant.  

 

 

 

Faculty Referenced In Article

Tiffany Sizemore-Thompson, J.D.Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Skills