When people are incarcerated, their “normal” lives get placed on pause – but their legal affairs and loved ones don’t. Prisoners and their families face difficult circumstances for managing parental rights, probate, and other civil matters. Whether these issues are related to the incarceration or independent of it, they require legal counsel often impossible for prisoners to obtain.
The Prisoner Assistance Program, part of Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, helps inmates at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham in the Men’s, Women’s, and Pre-Release Units. Inside the walls of a prison, our students are able to practice law while still in law school. Third year law students, who have been sworn in as student attorneys, meet with their clients in the prison to assist them with their civil legal matters. The student attorneys manage large caseloads and engage in the same full range of civil legal work as lawyers.
The incarcerated are a population often forgotten by society. But we all have rights, responsibilities, and legal needs, whether we are incarcerated or not. Through the vital work of the Prisoner Assistance Clinic, students at Maine Law ensure that the civil justice system remembers those rights and responsibilities.
Student Impact Summit
On March 22, 2018, Kelsey Doane presented on her project, “Thinking Outside The Box Inside the Walls,” during the Law School’s annual Student Impact Summit. She described the wealth of experience that she gained while working in the Prisoner Assistance Clinic. She (and other Maine Law students) met with their clients in the prison to assist them with their various legal issues such as: child support, torts, foreclosure, guardianships, wills, powers of attorney, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to pay wages, recovering licenses, copyrights, and incorporation. A video of her presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube Channel.