Pro bono spotlight: Project R offers people a second chance and new hope

  • By
  • | 12:00 p.m. May 9, 2016
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
Chardea Murray
Chardea Murray
  • Law
  • Share

Three Rivers Legal Services and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid are celebrating two years of hosting “Project R: Restoring Rights, Repairing Records and Rebuilding Hope.”

In 2014, the organizations began having quarterly workshops at the Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center to educate people about the process and procedures regarding sealing or expunging a criminal record or restoration of civil rights.

In 2015, the clinics evolved from providing lectures at workshops to providing services at pro se clinics.

Pro bono attorneys and law students provided assistance by helping applicants complete sealing, expunging and clemency packets.

The clinics were moved from the community center to Three Rivers’ office so the pro bono advocates would have access to resources needed to draft the packages, such as computers, printers and Internet access.

Project R is still thriving, mainly due to support from community partners including the D.W. Perkins Bar Association, Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, Florida New Majority, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, state Rep. Mia Jones, United Way Real$ense, the Public Defender’s Office and volunteer attorneys.

Law students also support Project R.

University of Florida law students traveled to Jacksonville during their spring break Feb. 29 to help Three Rivers and JALA present the first pro se clinic.

The students assisted six clients with completing sealing and expungement applications and pleadings.

In March, Florida Coastal School of Law students assisted with the restoration of civil rights clinic during their spring break. Students drafted six clemency packages.

As Project R progressed, Kathy Para, Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee chair, and I brainstormed ways to improve the clinic.

After surveying the community and listening to former clients, Project R will have a third component.

In order to provide opportunities to people who cannot seal or expunge due to a prior felony conviction and those who cannot apply for clemency due to the seven-year wait period or a disqualifying charge, Project R will host another workshop for ex-offenders who experience difficulties with obtaining employment.

The workshop also will show ex-offenders how to start their own business.

Three Rivers and JALA will collaborate with Florida Coastal School of Law’s Business Clinic, which is taught by professor Katharine Hartland. She and her students will give a presentation about business entity selection and formation as well as corporate governance.

After the presentation, if attendees would like additional help with starting up their business, they may complete an application to become a client of the clinic to receive further assistance.

The workshop will be scheduled in October during the American Bar Association’s National Celebrate Pro Bono Month.

If you’d like to contribute some of your time to Project R, contact [email protected] or [email protected].

If you’re too busy to donate services, help us expand the program by sending eligible applicants our way.

We are looking forward to another year of public service and helping ex-offenders get a fresh start.



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.