Decarceration and Community Reentry Clinic

Section 1, Spring 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 6/9
Credits: 4
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • M
  • 1130-1330
  • SL268
01/23/2023 04/24/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

Over 13 million people cycle through jails and prisons every year in the United States. Upon release, there are over 45,000 laws regulating where people with arrest records and criminal convictions can live, where they can work, how they can engage in the financial sector, how they can associate with their friends and family, and what resources they can access. More than two-thirds will be reincarcerated within five years — meaning there are more people incarcerated for a second or subsequent term than for the first time.The purpose of this clinic is for students to explore how mass incarceration was created and how it is maintained; to investigate structural racism and classism in the criminal legal system; to interrogate how and why the attendant consequences of contact with the criminal justice system often lead to unemployment/underemployment, housing instability/homelessness, financial insecurity and re-incarceration; and to develop legal skills to support formerly incarcerated people and their families with resolving the collateral consequences of incarceration, while empowering their clients and the communities to which they return to create and implement sustainable decarceration strategies, and drive community economic development. The clinic combines seminar-style discussion with field work and service-based learning. Assigned readings and class discussion will give students the opportunity to explore the history and evolution of incarceration in the United States. Students will critically examine criminal justice reform efforts, and critically engage the concept of “reform” and “progress” in the context of mass incarceration. Students will also explore the role of the private sector in criminal justice administration, incarceration and reentry. Students will work directly with formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs, activists and organizers to support their efforts to build community-based services. Students will have the opportunity to work on teams with community partners to identify a problem or gap that is impeding their organization's and their clients’ success, and will develop a project that offers legal strategies, among other social, practical and policy interventions to address that problem. Toward that end, students will have the opportunity to explore social entrepreneurship, policy, movement building and community organizing while also applying and strengthening their legal research, writing and oral communication skills. Students will also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with clients who are nearing release or recently released to provide direct legal services through a community drop-in legal clinic conducted in partnership with local reentry organizations. Students who take this clinic may subsequently take the advanced section of the clinic the following semester.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Written work product will vary based on the specific projects to which students are assigned. The clinic offers the opportunity to prepare petitions and responses to be filed in criminal and civil court, research memorandums, persuasive memorandums, and self-help guides.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes: An application will be required to enroll in this clinic. Details about the application process will be announced by the Director of Clinics, Prof. Shalf. NOTE REGARDING CREDITS: students in this clinic will receive a grade of Honors (H), Pass (P) or Fail (F) at the conclusion of the semester. In accordance with Academic Policy, CR, NC, H, P, and F grades do not earn grading points, so they do not contribute to a student's grade point average (GPA).

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM