Prisoner & Reentry Clinic

The Prisoner & Reentry Clinic represents prisoners and individuals facing legal barriers as a result of their criminal records. The clinic’s cases sit at the intersection of the civil and criminal justice systems and tackle issues related to mass incarceration, prisoner reentry, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. This is an intensive litigation clinic in which students, under faculty supervision, handle their cases from start to finish. Students can expect to handle cases in state and federal administrative tribunals or in D.C. Superior Court. Representative casework includes representing a client in a parole matter or seeking to expunge a client’s criminal record. Students may also participate in policy advocacy before the D.C. Council or with organizational clients on prisoner and reentry issues.   

Through this clinic, students develop a wide array of skills, including interviewing and counseling clients, problem-solving, collaboration, developing factual and legal theories, case planning, witness preparation, negotiating with opposing parties, oral and written advocacy, and system analysis and reform. The classroom component of the clinic focuses on skills development as well as structural issues related to the intersection of poverty, race, and the civil and criminal justice systems. The clinic is open to all second and third year students with no prerequisite courses.​

Information for Students

This an intensive litigation clinic and students will be responsible for lawyering their cases from beginning to end. Students will interview clients​, develop factual and legal theories, conduct research, prepare witnesses, negotiate with opposing parties, write briefs and motions, and/or conduct evidentiary hearings. In preparing to represent their clients, students may travel to prisons, their clients’ homes, and government agencies to conduct interviews and obtain relevant evidence. The Clinic also engages in local policy advocacy and students may have the opportunity to prepare white papers, collect data, draft rules and statutes, or deliver testimony at public hearings.

Students in the Clinic will learn to effectively undertake the responsibilities of lawyers, and to consider the possibilities and limits of the lawyer’s role. They will be challenged and encouraged to think through strategic decisions at every stage of the client representation or policy work. Students will learn how to utilize different statutory and regulatory frameworks to craft factual narratives and legal arguments, and will become familiar with the ways in which different tribunals adjudicate disputes.​ 

Each semester the clinics hold an Open House where each clinic’s faculty is available to answer questions about their clinic. Students may contact Professor Steinberg at any time to discuss the clinic or to ask specific questions.

For more information, and to apply, please login to the portal. Application materials are posted at least a few weeks prior to the start of the registration period for the following semester.

In the News

Presidential Clemency for a Clinic Client

Prisoner Reentry Clinic

Katie Mello, JD '16; Jessica Steinberg; and Steve Magnusson, JD '16

GW's Prisoner & Reentry Clinic won clemency for two clients, Rudolph Norris and Fred Glover, from President Barack Obama as part of the Obama Administration's historic clemency initiative to end harsh prison terms for low-level drug offenders.

Student-attorneys Courtney Francik, JD '15 and Bart Sheard, JD '15, worked tirelessly on Mr. Norris' case with support from Professor Jessica Steinberg and Friedman Fellow Mira Edmonds. The New York Times  profiled their work and published an opinion on the matter from Professor Steinberg.​

Mr. Glover's clemency grant was the product of outstanding and dedicated work on the part of student-attorneys Katie Mello, JD '16 and Steve Magnusson, JD '16. GW Law covered their work in depth.

Parole Practice Manual for the District of Columbia (2018)

Parole Practice ManualAuthored by Professors Jessica Steinberg and Katy Ramsey, the Parole Practice Manual for the District of Columbia is the only comprehensive primer on parole practice for D.C. residents. The manual is intended to assist incarcerated individuals in securing their freedom and is available to download for free in the link below. Questions regarding the Manual should be directed to Jessica Steinberg, Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Director of GW's Prisoner & Reentry Clinic.

View the Manual

Faculty

Jessica Steinberg

Jessica K. Steinberg

Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the Prisoner & Reentry Clinic

Katy Ramsey
Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Friedman Fellow