After an afternoon facilitating an expunction clinic at the New Hanover library, the pro bono group spent the rest of the day at the local community organization Leading Into New Communities, LINC. As an organization that provides transitional housing and case management services for formerly incarcerated individuals, LINC is making a huge impact in New Hanover County.
Pro bono students and LINC members participating in the 1st Annual LINC Cook-Off
The time at LINC was rewarding and educational for everyone involved. Our afternoon at LINC began with tilling soil and irrigating compost in LINC's urban garden, followed by a spirited cooking competition with participants in the LINC program and an enjoyable dinner. The students, as well as the participants in the LINC program all attested to how refreshing and impactful the experience was. Facilitating the expunction clinic and then having the opportunity to interact with the individuals in the LINC program on a more person level, allowed us to gain a perspective on how the criminal justice system affects people in marginalized communities. The varied interactions gave us an opportunity to see our clients as more than a name on a file. These individuals have families, goals, dreams, and most importantly hope.
Diana, a member of the LINC program, articulated this concept of renewed hope during our dinner. Diana said she heard about LINC through word of mouth after not having the best of luck finding community support and resources. Through the LINC program, Diana was given an opportunity to focus on herself and her future, while learning transferable and substantive skills.
"LINC has given me a lot of hope. By learning how to farm, I know that when I leave here I can start a small garden in my own backyard and feed my family fresh and healthy food," said Diana. "For the first time I am in a supportive and non-judgmental environment."
Diana, as well as the other members of the LINC program and the individuals we served at the expunction clinic, revealed how they are often burdened by the stigma attached to their experience in the criminal justice system. This insight made our work and our time with this group that much more rewarding and eye-opening. The expunction clinic is much more than just an opportunity for us as law students to gain substantive legal experience, it is an opportunity for us to give someone hope, support, and empowerment.
Posted by Kandace L. Watkins on Mon. March 10, 2014 10:36 PM
Spring Break 2014 (Eastern, Expunction)