TPP is an organization of and for formerly incarcerated individuals in Massachusetts, some of whom were sentenced to life in prison when they were children or adolescents. TPP’s vision is to transform the legal system through restorative justice circles and compassion, changing prisons from places of harm to places of healing, and replacing the urge to punish with the opportunity to heal from past trauma. TPP focuses on supporting “juvenile lifers” and “youthful offenders” (YOs).
Students will receive hands-on training from TPP in restorative justice circles. Students will participate in 6 weeks of TPP circle training for the first part of the semester and, later in the semester, students will apply their training by participating in circles with formerly incarcerated individuals. In the circles with formerly incarcerated individuals, students will learn about the practical impacts of the current system and why it’s important to change it. This will in turn inform their research.
Students who enroll in this TPP internship can also participate in the Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP). There is no conflict with participating in TPP and PLAP.
Description of student research and advocacy:
TPP student legal interns will support the organization’s policy and legislative work through a variety of legal research and advocacy projects. TPP has four primary policy objectives in Massachusetts which require research:
1. Ending lifetime parole and creating a new parole procedure for YOs,
2. Raising the age of criminal majority to 25 retroactively,
3. Ending discrimination against YOs in housing and employment
4. Funding for the YPP Wellness Center which provides counseling and other necessary support to assist formerly incarcerated YOs transition into the outside community.
Our internships provide opportunities for students to develop their research, writing and advocacy skills, and to receive weekly feedback on their work from experienced attorneys.
Ending lifetime parole for YOs involves doctrinal and policy research. The doctrinal foundation in this area is Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) and its progeny. TPP is in the process of drafting legislation to create a new parole procedure for YOs in Massachusetts that will be retroactive. Interns will assist in drafting these procedures and assist in developing advocacy materials to support these policies. This will require research on comparative parole procedures in other states and the social science brain research on cognitive and emotional maturity of children and adolescents that some courts are now relying upon.
There is a “raise the age” bill currently pending in the Massachusetts State Legislature, however, it only seeks to raise the age to 21 and is not retroactive, while TPP advocates raising the age to 25 and making it retroactive. This requires researching the path of the current legislation, analyzing testimony at legislative hearings as well as research on the science behind raising the age to 25.
Interns will also review a myriad of bills currently pending in the Massachusetts Legislature to end discrimination against people convicted of felonies in housing and employment. This will require legal research on discrimination against people convicted of felonies in Massachusetts and related topics.
This clinical placement will provide students with the opportunity to engage in policy analysis and advocacy on the cutting edge of reforming the criminal justice system and supporting a restorative justice perspective.
Description of training program:
This clinical placement will provide students with training in restorative justice practices. Phase One training will be held for 6 sessions, one per week, 90 minutes each over Zoom on weeknight evenings starting the week of January 29 through the week of March 4. This will involve hands-on experience of restorative justice circles, sharing in circles and supporting other participants. RJ techniques will be modeled and students will have the chance to practice these techniques.
Three separate circles will be held between March 18th and April 19th. The circles will include formerly incarcerated persons and Harvard Law students. Each circle will address one or two of the following policy areas:
(1) impact of life time parole on YOs
(2) impact of incarceration on housing and employment issues post incarceration for YOs
(3) impact of prosecuting minors as adults and sentencing minors as adults and why raising the age retroactively to 25 is so important, and
(4) funding the TPP Wellness Center.
Requirements for application:
Please submit a cover email, a statement of interest (which can be part of the cover email) and your resume. The statement of interest should include: 1. A paragraph or two on your motivation and/or reasons for your interest and desire to do this clinical internship with TPP and 2. Courses you have completed and/or experience you feel is relevant to this internship. Please submit your application by December 31, 2023 at 11:59 pm to Paul Bamberger at Bamberger59@gmail.com.
Once students are selected by the TPP and in order to earn Independent Clinical (IC), students must submit an IC application by January 10, 2024. Interested student should also review the Independent Clinical website to understand the IC requirements and application: https://hls.harvard.edu/clinics/independent-clinical/
This opportunity is NOT eligible to students on F-1 visas.
Independent Clinical do not satisfy the HLS experiential learning graduation requirement.
Questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org