Helping at the Halfway House

Virginia Law in Prison Project Students, Local Attorneys Launch Education Initiative
Tex Pasley, Maggie Birkel and Nicole Lawler

Tex Pasley '17, Maggie Birkel '18 and Nicole Lawler '18 of the Virginia Law in Prison Project are among the students working with local attorneys to educate men at a Charlottesville halfway house about their rights.

April 4, 2017

University of Virginia School of Law students and local attorneys are launching an effort to teach men at a local halfway house about their rights.

The students, who are members of the Virginia Law in Prison Project, are working with attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to offer educational programs at Piedmont House, a halfway house for men who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies.

Their kickoff event is a legal information session focused on suspended licenses and court fines on April 11 at 6 p.m. At a second session on April 26 at 6 p.m., students and attorneys will educate participants about family law.

"We are hopeful that this program will turn into a more robust legal assistance program next year with even greater involvement from local attorneys and students," said second-year law student Nicole Lawler, vice president of the Virginia Law in Prison Project and the organizer of the effort.

At both April sessions, the attorneys will offer presentations — Mario Salas '14 of LAJC on April 11 and Palma Pustilnik of CVLAS on April 26. Afterwards, several members of the student group will give a know-your-rights presentation focused mainly on how to interact with police.

The Virginia Law in Prison Project, which began two years ago, connects students with pro bono experiences and opportunities to learn about correctional practices and policy.

Students in the project have recently visited the Augusta Correctional Center to observe conditions and speak to administrators, heard from speakers such as former UVA Law professor Andrew Block, now the director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, and participated in a prison pen-pal exchange as part of the National Lawyers Guild's Student Week Against Mass Incarceration.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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