Student Pro Bono Project Joins Coalition to Register Voters in Local Jails

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Barbara Smith et al. posing for a photo

The Prisoner's Rights Pro Bono Project of Albany Law School is taking a leadership role in reengaging locally incarcerated individuals in active citizenship. The student-led project is part of the newly formed Coalition for Voter Registration in N.Y. Capital District Jails, which mobilized 30 volunteers to meet with inmates at the Albany County Corrections Facility on National Voter Registration Day, September 25, 2018.

In addition to assisting 41 individuals with the voter registration process, volunteers gave a short presentation on voting rights and provided up-to-date information pertaining to inmates on voter eligibility.

The Prisoner's Rights Pro Bono Project is co-directed by Alexandria Girimonte and Nicole Zagreda, both of the Class of 2020. Nearly 20 Albany Law School students volunteered in the registration drive, according to Girimonte.

"The Prisoner's Rights Pro Bono Project aims to advocate for those incarcerated by supporting clients through application processes, and by gaining familial and community support," Zagreda said in a statement. "We are grateful to be working with the Coalition for Voter Registration in County Jails as a way to encourage detainees to engage in their civic duties and exercise their rights as members of the community."

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple added, "The right to vote is a fundamental right protected under our constitution. If we are brave enough to listen to these individuals express their opinions, they might just help us to solve some of the serious issues facing our nation today. I believe a person who takes the initiative to register to vote is much more likely to get involved with their community in a positive way."

A second voter registration drive will be held October 9.

Albany Law School's Pro Bono Program is part of the The Justice Center, which provides free legal services to eligible residents and businesses in the Capital Region. The Clinic's mission is to provide high quality legal representation and to teach students to be skilled professionals who practice law with compassion and sensitivity.