Projects, Units & Initiatives
The Legal Aid Society is among the first state public defender organizations working in-house to explore our clients’ lives through video to convey their character, aspirations, traumas, difficulties, and often, transformation. In certain cases, video can be more effective than traditional written requests, with extraordinary potential for low-income clients. This important work was recently the subject of a profile by The New York Times.
Since September 2019, Legal Aid has submitted 22 mitigation videos. Of the cases decided, our work yielded reduced sentences, alternatives to incarceration, and elimination of bail conditions. During COVID-19, these outcomes were literally life-saving.
Legal Aid partners with Fordham Law School Criminal Defense Clinic to educate students on video mitigation and the advantages of visual advocacy through clinical workshops and lectures on storytelling, interviewing skills, and relationship building with clients. Students conduct interviews, craft case theories, collect essential visual material, interview clients, including at Rikers Island, and develop cohesive and compelling narratives for videos that will be used to advocate on our clients’ behalf. This partnership imparts upon the next generation of lawyers and legal professionals the positive impact that compassionate, client-centered advocacy has, and allows them the freedom to explore and pursue novel advocacy methods for clients who need it most. The VMP has also partnered with legal organizations and other schools to conduct trainings to educate lawyers, law students, and college students about video mitigation.
Your generosity will help us create a system where all clients, not only clients of means, can benefit from this new strategy and change the course of plea bargaining and sentencing. To support The Legal Aid Society, click here. Filmmakers who wish to donate time and equipment can email VideoMitigation@legal-aid.org.
Last Updated: 23 June 2023
2024 The Legal Aid Society. All Rights Reserved