“Roadmap to Reentry Guide & Interactive Hub” are Live!

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Root & Rebound is proud to introduce “Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide,” which will help to educate, support, and empower the 50,000 Californians leaving prison and jail each year, and the tens of thousands of people across the state who support them–family and loved ones, educators, social workers, legal advocates, and community supervision agencies.

Visit www.rootandrebound.org/roadmap to find out more!

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO WORKED ON THE GUIDE & HUB!

WE COULDN”T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU.

The “Roadmap to Reentry” guide is the first of its kind in the United States, an in-depth legal resource for people struggling through reentry. It is comprehensive in scope and length (1,200 pages!), covering nine areas of law and civic life: housing, public benefits, parole & probation, education, understanding & cleaning up your criminal record, ID & voting, family & children, court-ordered debt, and employment. With a California focus, the guide is written in simple language and meant to be used as a resource that people can turn to (rather than read cover-to-cover!) whenever they encounter challenges along the way. The guide is available free of charge to people in reentry and their loved ones, while professionals at community-based organizations, government agencies, and the like will be asked to make a sliding scale donation of $20-$50. On Root & Rebound’s “Roadmap to Reentry” Interactive Hub, you can download copies of the guide, request a hard copy, ask the Root & Rebound team a question, or request a training for your organization.

In conjunction with the guide, Root & Rebound will begin to conduct trainings across the state of California for communities in need: people in reentry, those preparing for release, and the people who support them in the community, including legal and social service providers, community supervision officers, and friends and family. Our first training on May 29th in the Bayview area of San Francisco is full, but many more will come soon! Email roadmap@rootandrebound.org to request a training, or do so through the hub.

Launch Event
We welcome you to our “Roadmap to Reentry” launch event at Root & Rebound’s downtown Oakland office (1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612) on Thursday, June 4, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m, where you can learn more about the guide, get hard copies, and ask questions to the R&R team.

Media are invited, interviews are available, and all are welcome.

Please spread the word @ROOTandREBOUND and on Facebook! #roadmaptoreentry

Reentry legal services change lives.

Last month, we wrote a blog post about a fantastic community resource in the South Bay: the San José State University (SJSU) Record Clearance Project. This clinic, led by Professor and Attorney Margaret (Peggy) Stevenson, engages undergraduate students to assist people in clearing their eligible criminal records. They do this by:

  • providing legal education about the dismissal process to potential clients;
  • preparing their clients’ petitions to the court, requesting dismissals and reductions of eligible convictions;
  • leading mock court hearings where people can practice talking to a judge about what a dismissal will mean to them in putting their lives back on track and seeking new opportunities, including better jobs and housing;
  • paying for all the court costs and fees associated with their clients’ cases for dismissal.

This week, the Record Clearance Project shared an INCREDIBLE VIDEO interviewing people in Elmwood Jail who have benefitted from the SJSU expungement clinic. The people interviewed in the video talk about how the expungement process has provided them with new opportunities and countless benefits in moving beyond their past. For example, several folks spoke about how the expungement process helped them find better jobs, access professional licenses that got their careers back on track, and find better housing. Many spoke from the heart about how getting their records dismissed gave them renewed self-confidence & self-love. This service gave people a second chance. See the video below:

Record Clearance Project 3/18/14 from John Kane on Vimeo.

As noted in the video, a judge can dismiss an eligible person’s criminal record “in the interests of justice.” This is a broad standard giving the judge a lot of discretion. This is exactly the type of situation where a lawyer and legal advocates are extremely important! If the judge has discretionary power, advocates can counsel their clients to tell their own story in the most impactful way possible and help advocate for a second chance with the client.

This video highlights the importance doing THIS WORK! And the importance of LEGAL ADVOCACY in reentry! It shows how reducing barriers in reentry, by providing legal services like expungements, changes lives and creates opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t exist. People who need reentry legal services have no legal right to an attorney, and there is no money for these services. Having nonprofit lawyers and volunteers engaged means that more and more people can overcome barriers in reentry and access opportunities to create the lives they dream and work hard for.

Thanks, SJSU Record Clearance Project and the people interviewed for this project, for sharing your work and incredible stories!

— The R & R Team

Resource for Bay Area Nonprofits Serving the Poor: The SF Bar Association

SF Bar Association

In a few days, Root & Rebound will celebrate 4 months since we opened! As a startup nonprofit, R&R could not be where it is today without the extraordinary help of pro bono lawyers from all around the Bay Area. How did we find lawyers willing to help out Root & Rebound for FREE???

First, we reached out to our contacts from undergrad and law school. Through a friend-connection at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, two of their fabulous lawyers volunteered their time to help Root & Rebound prepare its IRS application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience working with volunteer business law attorneys: they explained each and every component of the 501(c)(3) application and meticulously reviewed R&R’s answers. Around the same time, a friend from Berkeley Law School who helped kickstart the not-for-profit Family Violence Appellate Project told us to check in with the Bar Association of San Francisco for pro bono legal help… Look no further!

The SF Bar—through its own nonprofit, the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC)—provides pro bono (free!) legal and related social services to low-income and homeless San Francisco residents and to nonprofit organizations that serve these communities through the Community Organization Representation Project (CORP). CORP‘s mission is to provide free business law services to nonprofit organizations (like Root & Rebound!) that directly serve low-income and underserved communities in Northern California. The eligibility requirements are simple and straightforward: CORP assists 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations (and nonprofit organizations applying for 501(c)(3) status) that are based in Northern California, that directly serve low-income individuals and communities in Northern California, and have a budget of under $5 million.

CORP took on Root & Rebound as a client in December, and we have already received so much invaluable legal assistance from their panel of pro-bono attorneys– experienced business law attorney volunteers who provide pro bono transactional legal services in employment, corporate, contract, real estate, tax, and intellectual property law to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

What kind of pro bono assistance have we received?

Well, it crosses the gamut, as CORP and its attorneys have met so many of our legal needs. An attorney at Cooper, White & Cooper LLP reviewed Root & Rebound’s fiscal sponsorship agreement (an agreement that allows us to accept tax-deductible donations while we await our 501(c)(3) status determination) and helped us negotiate its terms; a volunteer attorney from Latham & Watkins LLP reviewed our incorporation documents and amended them, developed Board resolution templates, will be recording minutes for our first-ever Board meeting this week,  and is providing other legal support to the R&R Board; and most recently a volunteer attorney Haight, Brown & Bonesteel LLP who is providing counsel on R&R’s risk management and professional insurance needs. These attorneys have already dedicated many hours of pro bono services to Root & Rebound, treated us with the utmost respect and professionalism, and provided us with thousands of dollars worth of quality free legal services and counsel pertaining to R&R’s business and transactional law needs.

Examples of other types of pro bono services offered through CORP are: 

Nonprofit Incorporation

  • Obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status
  • Individual placements, capacity building workshops, and innovative programs

Employment Law

  • Draft or update personnel manuals and policies
  • Obtain counsel when implementing economically driven layoff plans or furloughs
  • Ensure your employment classifications comply with labor laws

Intellectual Property

  • Protect trademarks
  • Copyright materials, such as training manuals or education textbooks
  • Protect websites and other Internet materials

Real Estate

  • Review rental leases
  • Buy or sell real estate
  • Resolve zoning questions

Corporate Governance and Structuring

  • Revise or update bylaws and other corporate documents
  • Prepare corporate policies, including conflicts of interest, records retention or whistleblower policies
  • Create and structure affiliate relationships
  • Draft fiscal sponsorship documents

Business Contracts

  • Draft contracts with vendors
  • Draft other types of agreements

Tax Law

  • Reinstate revoked 501(c)(3) status
  • Other tax-related matters

Other Preventative Measures

  • i.e., workshops on best practices relating to political activity, employees’ use of social media, etc.

CORP is unable to assist with litigation matters.

If you are in the Bay Area and believe your nonprofit may qualify, visit CORP’s website here and apply. If you are a nonprofit leader outside of Northern California, we encourage you to check with you local bar association to see what services, if any, they provide to nonprofits like yours. You might be surprised at the resources right under your nose!

—The R&R Team