Northern Illinois University’s College of Law and the Federal Bar Association announced the launch of a Prisoner Rights Project on Friday, a project that matches third-year law students with inmates involved in civil rights lawsuits in Rockford’s federal court.
Many attorneys are unwilling or unable to represent those inmates, so many of them end up representing themselves in court, placing themselves in an immediate disadvantage.
The students who participate in the Prisoner Rights Project will do so under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Not only will those inmates receive free legal services, but the law students will get hands-on experience in court.
“This is a win-win project,” said Ruben Castillo, the Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois. “What the court is getting out of it is a group of future lawyers who can represent prisoners. What prisoners are getting out of it is someone who is going to be representing them while supervised by actual lawyers.”
The Federal Bar Association provided a grant to fund the project.