April 24, 2012
-- Volunteer Lawyers for Justice's Newark Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe) has named Jessica S. Henry, Esq. of Montclair, N.J., as the chair of its Steering Committee. VLJ's ReLeSe program assists Essex County residents with criminal records in handling the civil legal issues serving as barriers to successful community reintegration. Those often include driver's license restoration, resolution of long out-standing municipal matters, modification of child support orders and the expungement of criminal records.
Henry, who previously served as a member of the Steering Committee, is an associate professor in justice studies at Montclair State University. Her extensive teaching areas include hate crimes, death penalty, criminal law and procedure, as well as justice perspectives. In addition to those areas, her research also includes prisoner reentry. Prior to her work with Montclair State, Henry served as a public defender in Manhattan and the Bronx for 10 years.
"Jessica possesses a strong background in the law from her extensive experience as a public defender and also has an in-depth understanding of prisoner reentry gained from her research studies. We are thrilled to have her as our new chair," said Gina DeVito, Esq., managing attorney of VLJ's ReLeSe. "We also want to thank Marvin Adames, our outgoing chair, for his long-standing commitment to ReLeSe."
ReLeSe Expanded Programming in 2010
ReLeSe expanded its expungement efforts on the heels of the State of New Jersey's changes to long-standing regulations on what can be expunged and the waiting period that must expire before a petition to expunge can be filed. The new law makes third- and fourth-degree drug offenses expungeable and, when in the public interest, reduces the waiting period for the expungement of certain offenses from 10 years to 5 years. ReLeSe volunteer attorneys work with clients on filing petitions for expungement, helping them to navigate the complex legal process.
VLJ created ReLeSe in collaboration with Newark Mayor Cory Booker's Administration and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice with the support of community-based organizations, local law firms, IOLTA and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. In addition to ReLeSe, VLJ's wide range of programs include free legal counsel and advice; educational seminars on various legal matters such as consumer law, bankruptcy, family law and special education; and direct representation for at-risk individuals facing critical civil legal issues.