In its first semester in person, Yale Law School’s new clinic combines theoretical concepts of policing with tangible policy measures

Contributing journalist

Karen Lin, Photo Editor

In its first year of face-to-face work, Yale Law School‘s Policing, Law & Policy Clinic enables students to translate empirical evidence on policing and reform programs into action. real and actionable justice-oriented policies.

The clinic, now in its second year of existence, works closely with the Justice Collaboratory at the Faculty of Law, a nationally recognized social science research center aimed at shaping a more criminal justice system. “Fair and democratic,” according to the Faculty of Law’s website. The clinic and collaboration offer students the opportunity to expose themselves to concrete cases and advocacy activities in specific legal areas.

“In the events of last year’s controversies over police reform and the violence involving the police, including and most importantly the murder of George Floyd, there was this growing sentiment in law school that law school she herself needs to be more proactive in this space, ”explained Jorge Camacho LAW ’10, one of the clinic’s co-instructors. “At the same time, the Justice Collaboratory… they’ve been working in the police space for a long time, but they wanted to [also] increase their involvement in the creation of policy directly.

Law professor Tracey Meares teaches the clinic alongside Camacho. Meares is one of the founding directors of JC and Camacho is its director of policing, law and policy.

In addition to working closely with the law school and the JC, the clinic is also a partner of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. CSG is a nonprofit organization that serves all three branches of government in all 50 states, and its Justice Center specifically focuses on helping states and localities improve outcomes for those involved in criminal justice systems. and juvenile.

“It was in 2020 when Jorge first came to see me and told me that there was a police clinic at the law school that looked at police and law enforcement matters in particular. , but also criminal justice issues in general, ”said Megan Quattlebaum LAW ’10, director of the CSG Justice Center. “He was really interested in finding projects that the students could add a lot of value to. [to] and also learn a lot in the process.

While the clinic began last fall, this partnership began in the spring and continues throughout the current mandate and into the foreseeable future.

Projects in collaboration with the CSG Justice Center are both national and state. For example, a group of students last year studied models of public safety that place less emphasis on the police presence, especially for the state of Virginia.

Launched in the 2020-21 academic year, the clinic spent its first two semesters on Zoom. Camacho said he was happy to start the in-person training at the clinic.

“This semester we are really catching our pace,” Camacho said. “I think it’s the confluence of being in the second year of maturity at the clinic and having the shared space to really get things done in a way that’s a lot harder to achieve compared to Zoom.”

To participate in the clinic, students submit an Expression of Interest describing any previous police or political experience and outlining their particular interest in policing matters. Between six and eight students are selected from the pool of candidates, and the rest are placed on a waiting list. This semester, the clinic has seven students.

As members, students participate in a weekly clinical seminar. Camacho also verifies each project group, as does representatives of partner organizations like the CSG Justice Center.

“The clinic was a remarkable opportunity to try to think about [public safety] problems in innovative ways and see those conversations translated into substantive policies, ”said Callie Bruzzone LAW ’23, who is in her second year working with the clinic, in a Press release from the Faculty of Law. “This important work is underway and there is still a lot to do.”

Camacho and Quattlebaum, as law school alumni themselves, described the benefits of real-world legal experience offered by clinics like these. Quattlebaum added that the clinics serve as the link between what students learn in the classroom and how they will practice law in the world beyond Yale Law School.

“I really liked and enjoyed my clinical experience, and it’s really nice to be able to contribute a little bit to next and give the students who follow me the opportunity to do something that I hope they will. will find it really meaningful, “Quattlebaum said.” I certainly know this is important to the states and communities we work with. “

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