Wayne State University will conduct a holistic defense partnership program in the fall of 2021. The program will bring together social work and law students to serve clients in criminal defense offices in Detroit. Students will address systemic problems in criminal justice under the supervision of licensed attorneys and social workers.

As you look at the unintended consequences of a person getting further and further into the criminal justice system, you need to think about what happened to their children, what about their lost income, what about the family disorder problems, and what those costs are for our society? “- Sheryl Kubiak of Wayne State University School of Social Work

The university’s administrators believe the holistic approach will drive criminal justice reforms and stimulate change in their community.

Hear: How the pilot program takes a holistic approach to addressing the legal and social needs of the individual.

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Dan Ellman is an external professor at Wayne State University Law School. “When people are involved in the criminal justice system, the consequences are many,” says Ellman. For some people, he explains, these consequences can include loss of jobs, parental rights, and housing.

The pilot has partnered with four organizations to provide holistic legal defense to clients. Ellman explains that each organization does a different job, but they all take a holistic approach. Participants in the program will address a variety of topics including sentence reduction, connection to treatment services, re-entry work, improving access to court records and more. “All [organizations] Include this idea of ​​getting people back on their feet and being able to contribute to society again in a productive and non-punitive way, ”he says.

Sheryl Kubiak is the Dean of Wayne State University School of Social Work. According to Kubiak, interdisciplinary partnerships are often fraught with misunderstandings about goals. “We hope to produce lawyers and social workers in these offices who are used to working together,” says Kubiak.

While this initiative may prove costly, Kubiak says it is a necessary investment to improve citizens’ livelihoods. She explains: “When you look at the unintended consequences of someone advancing further and further into the criminal justice system, you need to think about what happened to their children, what about their lost earnings, what about family disorder problems. and what are these costs to our society? ”

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