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Allison Haar Evermann ’13 awarded social justice fellowship; will advocate for incarcerated women

"Dorothea Advocacy Project" to fill need for services in New Hampshire

(Boston, 9/19/13) New England Law | Boston: Allison Haar Evermann ’13 is the recipient of the 2013 Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship from Rosie’s Place, a Boston South End women’s shelter. The yearlong fellowship, which includes a $40,000 stipend, will support a program of legal advocacy for incarcerated women in New Hampshire with serious mental health issues and will involve current New England Law students as volunteers.

Allison Haar Evermann '13 Allison Haar Evermann '13

Following in the pioneering footsteps of Dorothea Dix

Evermann’s “Dorothea Advocacy Project” is inspired by the work of Dorothea Dix, who pioneered mental health reform in New England and nationally. Because Evermann’s research pointed to a particular need for these services in New Hampshire, she will offer representation to women in the Granite State’s county jails and state prison and to recently released women struggling with re-entry issues. Initial efforts will focus on helping the women apply for benefits before they are released. Each client will be paired with a female attorney or law student who can provide personal advocacy and serve as a support system and positive role model.

“I seek to change the lives of the women who face the dual challenges of mental illness and criminal history,” states Evermann. “I believe that women in prison face different challenges and have different needs than male inmates. I also believe they are uniquely strong. My mission is to use legal education, zealous advocacy, and personal mentorship to end the cycle of poverty and recidivism.”

Project builds on law school experiences, support

At New England Law, Evermann received the Sandra Day O’Connor Merit Scholarship and participated in the CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) Initiative. She clerked and interned in the areas of criminal law and mental health law.
“I had a fantastic experience with the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), where I received credit through the Criminal Procedure II Clinic,” she says. “I also worked with the CPCS Mental Health Litigation unit doing challenging, exciting research on the future of mental health law in Massachusetts. I co-authored an article published in Lawyers Weekly and my name appeared on a reply brief submitted to the Appeals Court. I not only finished law school with a substantial legal resume, but a long list of references and connections in the public interest community.”
New England law professors Dina Francesca Haynes and David Siegel assisted Evermann in developing her grant proposal. Siegel, co-director of the Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR), continues to serve as an adviser, and current law students are contributing to the project’s further development. 

“The Dorothea Project will fill a huge gap in New Hampshire's legal and correctional system,” says Siegel. “There is really nothing comparable that serves the needs of mentally ill female inmates by helping them access social and family services and maintain mental health services.”

Evermann is also an entrepreneur whose eclectic interests have included making recordings for software firms and operating a successful local business. A profile on her, “Thinking Outside the Box,” appeared in the spring 2012 edition of the law school’s Bridge magazine.

Furthering longstanding connections

The Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship honors the lifelong work of the founder of Rosie’s Place, founded in 1974 as the first women-only shelter in the country. It provides a safe and nurturing environment to help poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives.
New England Law has many ties to Rosie’s Place, with numerous students having served as interns and volunteers in legal clinics there sponsored by Shelter Legal Services. In 2009, Ligia Rodriguez ’11 was one of four students across the nation to receive ABA Justice Fund scholarships, in part due to her work at Rosie’s Place.

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