Legal Aid’s Community Justice Unit Featured in NLADA’s Update

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association featured The Legal Aid Society’s Community Justice Unit in its NLADA Update.

The article pointed out that the program, formally known as the LAS Anti-Gun Violence Unit, aims at expanding its efforts in curbing gun violence throughout the five boroughs of New York City, incorporating various initiatives focused on addressing the root causes of violence before they result in poor outcomes for the community. One initiative involves a toll-free hotline made available to Legal Aid Society's Cure Violence partners, which will eventually be available 24 hours to anyone in NYC. Another CJU initiative provides Law Day events at which community members may come to speak with lawyers from many different practices areas. CJU also holds RAP sheet clean-up clinics around the city where community members can learn about their RAP sheets and how they can clean up any false information. Regularly educating students in schools and at Cure Violence sites with Know-Your-Rights presentations is an additional means for CJU to help ensure that people are well informed when confronted by police.

CJU is also working to improve public policies by coordinating with LAS special litigation units to bring lawsuits to resolve systemic issues facing their clients. This program is a timely response to the heightened scrutiny regarding community and police relations. As communities and activists, such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement, demand solutions to improving their communities, CJU demonstrates the impact that organizations and the legal community can have on addressing social problems. CJU is not only participating in the dialogue of issues, but taking action, and believes being active in the communities alongside community partners, tenants' associations, schools and youth organizations will help LAS and their advocates develop a better understanding of the everyday issues they must face and fight to transform justice in New York City.