Northeastern University’s Prisoners’ Assistance Project

Northeastern University’s Prisoners’ Assistance Project

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Northeastern University’s Prisoners Assistance Project (PAP) is a legal aid clinic that provides men and women incarcerated in Massachusetts prisons and jails with free legal assistance on a variety of serious criminal issues, including disciplinary charges, parole applications, parole revocation and more. Each law student handles a complex public parole release hearing for a prisoner serving a life sentence. These hearings tend to be very emotionally charged since the victim, or the victim’s family in murder cases, generally show up to oppose the granting of parole. In handling these cases from start to finish, students develop a variety of trial skills, including learning how to conduct direct and cross-examinations, reviewing transcripts and records, investigating the client’s background and developing other evidence, preparing the client for questioning by a prison or parole board, and representing the client before the boards. They also learn to write successful administrative appeals. In addition to client representation, the clinic regularly presents a survey of the constitutional law related to the sentencing process and the rights of prisoners while incarcerated and on parole.

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