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PLAP 2019 Summer Student Attorney Program

The Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) is now accepting applications for its 2019 Summer Student Attorney Program.

Why work at PLAP this summer? Here are just a few reasons:

• At PLAP, you will take the lead on your own cases and directly represent clients in prison disciplinary, parole, and classification hearings. You will interview clients, develop case strategies with our Supervising Attorneys, draft and submit motions to dismiss and discovery requests, cross-examine witnesses and argue at hearings, and get experience writing and filing appeals.

• PLAP’s clients need your help. In Massachusetts, prisoners are not automatically given lawyers for disciplinary or parole hearings. You are their best chance for competent representation.

• You will learn from experienced attorneys. Our Supervising Attorneys will guide you through the representation process, and will help you develop your advocacy skills more broadly.

• Finally, you will be part of a community. PLAP summer student attorneys spend time together both in and out of the office. Outings in past years have included trivia nights and hiking trips!

Qualified candidates will have an interest in criminal justice and representing incarcerated persons. Training will be held during the last weeks of May. You must be able to spend 10 weeks working full-time for PLAP during the summer months. In addition to representing clients, you will answer phone calls from prisoners in the PLAP office and respond to written requests for help. You should be able to drive and rent a car in the United States. Spanish or other foreign language skills are a plus.

PLAP summer student attorneys will receive a $500 stipend in addition to any public interest funding available through other sources. As a small office, PLAP offers a casual environment and flexible hours.

Interested students should email an application package including resume, cover letter, writing sample and at least one reference to Ian Eppler (, Sam Miller ( and Shanell Lavery (

We will review applications on a rolling basis. Interviews will begin in February, and will continue until all available positions are filled. Applications submitted before January 31, 2019 will receive preference.

In the News: PLAP Students Fight Injustice of Capital Punishment

The Harvard Gazette featured three PLAPers—Milo Inglehart, Megan Barnes, and Jake Meiseles—in an article about Harvard Law School’s capital punishment clinic. Meiseles, Barnes, and Inglehart took Professor Carol Steiker’s Capital Punishment Clinic as 2Ls during their January term.  In the article, they describe the problematic and horrific use of the death penalty in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Read the full article in the Harvard Gazette.

In the article, Meiseles explained, “Many of the men sentenced to death ended up there due to prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate lawyers, and terrible racial undercurrents in the criminal justice system, and some are innocent. It’s a terrible injustice that we as a society should not be tolerating.”

The criminal legal system affects a huge number of those in the U.S., and especially people of color. PLAPers are committed to fighting for justice at all stages of the legal system. PLAPers are not only involved in representing clients before the Massachusetts Parole Board and the Department of Corrections, but many of them also work to reform and combat many the system as a whole. For instance, PLAPers often take coursework about criminal law, as well as clinical courses where they practice under the supervision of an attorney. These include the Capital Punishment Clinic, taught by Professor Steiker, the Criminal Justice Institute, led by Professor Dehlia Umunna, and the Crimmigration Clinic, lead by Professor Phil Torrey.

For Inglehart, Barnes, and Meiseles, death penalty work demonstrated one of the ways our criminal legal system is fundamentally broken and unjust. Barnes believes that heightened awareness will lead to change. “If more people would educate themselves about what’s truly happening in capital punishment in America, how fundamentally unfair and unjust is, it would be abolished tomorrow,” she insisted, “if people understood that death row prisoners are not monsters, and that quite often they’re poor and lack adequate lawyers, there’d be calls for massive reforms.”

The time Inglehart, Meiseles, and Barnes spent working on capital punishment allowed them to see up close the outrageous nature of the system. Inglehart stated, “The main takeaways for me are first the overwhelming injustice of how the death penalty is meted out, and the importance of working to remedy that.”

These experiences strengthen the skills and dedication of student attorneys in their representation of clients. Much of PLAP’s work involves high stakes issues. For instance, PLAPers represent those with life sentences before the Massachusetts Parole Board. If successful, an incarcerated person with a life sentence will be able to leave prison. Additionally, PLAPers represent clients in disciplinary hearings before the Department of Corrections. In many of these hearings, their clients face tough sanctions, such as solitary confinement, a tool used regularly in the Massachusetts prison system.

PLAP is proud of its members for their work and dedication to their clients and especially proud of the work they do throughout the criminal legal system.

MIT Study: Juvenile Incarceration Reduces Likelihood of Staying in School

A recent study done by Joseph Doyle, an economist at MIT’s Sloan School of Business Management, and Anna Aizer, a professor of economics at Brown University, suggests that “other things being equal, juvenile incarceration lowers high-school graduation rates by 13 percentage points and increases adult incarceration by 23 percentage points.”

Click here to read the press release of the study, and here for the full report.

Recent article in The Atlantic addresses criminal justice reform

The article, titled “The Missing Statistics of Criminal Justice”, addresses issues of solitary confinement in prisons, inmate on inmate violence, use of force by police officers, and prosecutorial discretion.

For the full article, click here.

New York Times Op-ed Gives Overview of Dealing with Mass Incarceration

The Sentencing Project‘s Marc Mauer, along with Georgetown Law professor David Cole, wrote an op-ed last week in the New York Times, offering a holistic perspective on criminal justice reform, addressing issues of mass incarceration, drug courts, sentence lengths, and recidivism, among others.

Click here for the full article.

Vera Institute of Justice publishes report on misconceptions of solitary confinement

“Whatever the label, the experience for the person is the same —confinement in an isolated cell (alone or with a cellmate) for an average of 23 hours a day with limited human interaction, little constructive activity, and in an environment that ensures maximum control over the individual.”

Click here for the report, summary of the report, and the Washington DOC’s grid for solitary confinement, and click here to go straight to the pdf of the report.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker calls for criminal justice reform

On April 23rd, 2015, in an an op-ed published on, New Jersey Senator (D) Cory Booker called for large-scale reform of America’s criminal justice system:

“As we reform our criminal justice system at the national level, we will alter the cycles of poverty and recidivism that plague too many American communities … Instead of putting resources toward juvenile detention centers, we can put resources toward afterschool programs that have proved to help keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and in school.”

Click here to read the full article.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Unveils Plan to Cut Rikers Island Population



“As of late March, over 400 people had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime … As part of Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, all cases involving defendants who have been incarcerated for over a year — currently more than 1,500 people — are to be put on the court calendar within 45 days.”

Read the full NYTimes article, by Michael Schwirtz and Michael Winerip, here.

Op-ed written from inside Attica Correctional Facility argues for free college courses



“What if, a few times a week, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were streamed on the prison’s internal station, channel 3? … The MOOCs, which are free for the rest of the world, could help American prisoners become more educated and connected.”

Read the full NYTimes article, by John J. Lennon, here.

Norway’s maximum security prison built for minimizing recidivism

Halden(photo courtesy of

“Tom was adamant that overcoming his substance-­abuse problem was his responsibility alone. But he conceded that the environment at Halden, and the availability of therapists, made it easier. Compared with other prisons, “it’s quiet,” he said. “No fighting, no drugs, no problem,” he added. “You’re safe.””

Click here for the full New York Times article, by Jessica Benko.


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