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UH legal clinic to help contest unjust sentencin

HONOLULU — A new pilot legal clinic will assist individuals who are formerly or currently incarcerated, and have been unfairly or overly sentenced. The clinic, called Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i, will begin in January 2022 at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law.

Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i’s mission will be to serve the community by offering free legal services to those with unjust sentences, train law students in the area of criminal justice, and bring together social service organizations and providers who can help those freed by the clinic successfully re-enter society.

Hawai‘i Innocence Project Co-Director Kenneth Lawson and Associate Director Jennifer Brown are starting the clinic to create access to justice for those in need.

This clinic, modeled after the Ohio Justice and Policy Center’s Beyond Guilt, was created by law professor and civil rights activist David Singleton. Singleton reached out to Lawson about Hawai‘i serving as the first Beyond Guilt clinic outside of Ohio. Lawson jumped at the opportunity to start up the pilot clinic because, as someone who has been incarcerated and was given a second chance, he believes Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i will similarly give others the opportunity to change their lives for the better.

Lawson said, “Everyone deserves a second chance at life once he or she has paid their debt to society.”

Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i will assist people with: clemency (pardons and commutations of life sentences), compassionate release (kupuna, domestic violence and sexual assault survivors), drug offenses, record clearing and sealing (expungements and court case sealing) and parole (petitions and hearings).

Applying to have a case reviewed

People interested in applying to have their case reviewed by Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i should visit the website and complete an application.

While the applicant’s case will be handled by Beyond Guilt Hawai‘i pro bono (for free), the costs to handle a single case in the clinic could cost thousands of dollars.

Tax free donations can be made through the UH Foundation to the Hawai‘i Innocence Fund, with a designation to the Beyond Guilt Clinic.
Source: The Garden Island

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