SWLAW Blog | Future Students

Image - Youth Offender Parole Clinic

April 15, 2021

The Pandemic Can't Stop Victory in the Youth Offender Parole Clinic

Under the supervision of Dean Nydia Dueñez, Southwestern students in the Youth Offender Parole Clinic had two incredible victories in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Andy Hyman (3L) and Harriet Fischer (’20) secured the release of Darryl Collins, who had been incarcerated for 25 years. He was truly deserving of parole and had a long and extensive track record of rehabilitation. Mr. Collins has a strong Christian faith and had become a deacon and minister while in prison. He had transformed from being someone who was so traumatized that he acted out violently (when he was young) into a mature adult who is committed to peacebuilding. He developed conflict resolution skills and even became a program facilitator for a conflict resolution program in prison. Although we firmly believed that Mr. Collins was deserving of parole, Southwestern students Andy Hyman and Harriet Fischer worked tirelessly with him to prepare for the hearing. They compiled hundreds of documents of evidence and prepared a powerful brief setting forth the reasons their client should be released. Mr. Collins was released over the summer. His release was particularly significant in light of the significant health risks facing people in prison due to COVID-19.

"Working on behalf of Darryl was an honor and the experience of a lifetime — he earned his grant of parole by doing the hard work of rehabilitation and facing his challenges with patience and courage. I learned so much from the Clinic, our professors, my fellow students, and our clients. It was by far the most gratifying and rewarding experience of law school, made even better by a successful outcome for Darryl."

- Harriet Fischer '20

Rose Harriet (’20) also invested an incredible amount of time, intellectual, and empathy into her representation of Carlos Leon, who was found suitable for parole after being in prison for 25 years. Mr. Leon became a leader while in prison, teaching himself English and working hard over the course of many years to earn his GED. Carlos used his linguistic skills to help others by taking the information he had learned from his long-term participation in AA meetings to create access to AA meetings for Spanish-speakers in the prison. Without his leadership and facilitation of these meetings, they were not accessible to the Spanish-speaking population. He became, in the words of prison staff “a role model for his peers.” Like Andy and Harriet, Rose wrote a powerful brief and compiled impressive supportive documentation demonstrating her client’s rehabilitation. Rose also demonstrated her ability to adapt because her client’s hearing was conducted via Skype due to the pandemic. She successfully navigated the new format and delivered a strong closing argument.