Fordham Law

Prisoners’ Rights Advocates: Winner in ABA Good Works Law Student Competition

July 01, 2011

The Fordham Law School Prisoners’ Rights Advocates, a PIRC student group, finished in third place in the American Bar Association Section on Litigation’s Good Works Law Student Competition. The group was awarded $10,000 to support its Legal Video Libraries for Juvenile Jails–Rikers Island project.

Eugenia Schraa '12, Erin Mack Smith '13, and Anna Stallmann '13, three of the student leaders who conceived of and developed the project, traveled as finalists to the Section’s national Spring Leadership Meeting in Laguna Niguel, California. View photos of the awards event. Noah Hertz-Bunzl '12 and Richard Gage '13 are also part of the team.

The Legal Video Libraries for Juvenile Jails project will provide accessible answers to the pressing legal questions of incarcerated youth on Rikers Island concerning their juvenile criminal cases. The project will create easy-to-digest videos and supplementary materials to distribute to juvenile prison law libraries and will build a model curriculum for nationwide replication. View a video of the project. 

The project builds upon the PRA’s work with detained youth at Rikers. For the last three years, Fordham Law student volunteers have spent five Sunday morning sessions each semester developing and teaching “know your rights" workshops. The sessions culminate in a mock trial in which the juveniles play all of the roles. 

"Meaningful access to justice requires that a person facing criminal charges be able to understand the trial process and effectively participate in his own defense," said Hillary Exter, PIRC’s Director of Student Organizations and Publicity. "This project will help young people who are too poor to post bail some important tools." 

Bruce Green, Louis Stein Professor of Law, Director of the Stein Center, Chair of the Criminal Justice Section Chair, and Chair of the Task Force on the Litigation Research Fund, Section of Litigation, was present when the ABA announced the award at the Litigation Section’s Spring Leadership meeting. 

“Our students represented Fordham in outstanding fashion at the Section's leadership meeting and, along with students from two other law schools, received a standing ovation.”