Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration is a clinic that will focus on litigation in federal court and resolution of claims related to prisoners' conditions of confinement. Students will visit clients in state and federal prisons where they will interview, counsel and develop strategies. In collaboration with non-profit organizations and small civil rights law firms and subject to the law student intern rules, clinic students will litigate issues identified by the clients.
Students will work with clients to develop materials clients can use to prepare internal prison administrative remedies and to file administrative claims, including claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. These materials will be prepared for distribution and will provide the basis for "know your rights" power point presentations. Although the identification of cases will be done collaboratively with the clients, projects may include a federal habeas action on behalf of a state prisoner raising an actual innocence claim and a religious freedom claim on behalf of a federal prisoner. It is anticipated that claims related to medical care and mental health will become part of the clinic's docket. An initiative to examine and supplement resources available to immigration detainees held in the New York area may also be part of the clinic's work.
To prepare for this work, students will read and discuss writings about punishment theory, the history of American prisons and the substantive law governing prisoners' rights. To develop the skills they will need to work with clients, students will participate in intensive simulated interview exercises. Other legal skills, including counseling, negotiation, oral argument, preparation of pleadings, briefs and other litigation related writing will be taught and acquired in the context of client representation. Students will be encouraged to raise, reflect on and discuss relevant issues of professional responsibility that arise in work with confined, indigent clients.