Attorneys Organize to Protect the Rights of Arrestees Free of Charge

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First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA, First Defense) will report back on its recent experience with Homan Square and other Chicago police facilities where youth and adults are held incommunicado. Chicago made international news for “Homan Square,” record numbers of false confessions, police shootings, torture, and a department-wide code of silence on police crimes and misconduct, all disproportionately affecting African Americans. Chicago can be known for a unique solution! FDLA will make specific calls to action for getting volunteer attorneys into the police stations.

The nonprofit charitable organization First Defense Legal Aid is the only way people in Chicago police custody can access their right to an attorney free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, when someone calls 1(800) LAW-REP-4 to alert our volunteer attorneys.

The Chicago Police Department reported that only .3% of their arrestees had a lawyer at any police station last year. The other 99.7% had the right to a lawyer too, but the public defender can’t be appointed until much later, police do not allow arrestees to use the phones until the end of the process, and the legal aid number is not provided. So, First Defense relies on 3rd parties to deploy their free services.

“I was told personally that no one can make phone calls from Homan Square. It’s a problem department-wide that means no one gets a lawyer when it matters most. Providing real access to our rights is part of creating a peaceful city.” -Charles Jones, panelist

“Jurisdictions that ensure real access to legal aid for all arrestees see a reduction in violent crime. Miranda rights are not real if there’s no way to contact a lawyer.” -Eliza Solowiej, moderator

DETAILS: Flint Taylor, Charles Jones, April Kentala, Jarrett Adams, and Eliza Solowiej will speak. Taylor is a renowned attorney who recently represented people tortured by Chicago police under the direction of former Commander Jon Burge. Jones is a Know Your Rights Organizer for FDLA who has specific policy solutions to present. Kentala is an FDLA attorney with many experiences representing clients held at Homan Square. Adams is a recent law school graduate and a Public Interest Fellow at the US Court of Appeals who was wrongfully convicted at the age of 17 and exonerated after serving for nearly 10 years in prison. Solowiej is the Executive Director of FDLA.

A Report Back was held November 12th at the Westside Justice Center, 601 S. California


 

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