SIDEBAR Fall 2019 - 28

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

SIDEBAR FEATURE

2019 Leadership Academy Members
Launch First Reentry Day
By Aaron Kostyk, Esq., 2019 Leadership Academy Participant

O

n Friday, June 28th, the Montgomery Bar Association, Montgomery Bar
Foundation, and MBA Leadership Academy took a momentous first step in
working to address systemic issues facing citizens who are reentering society
following incarceration. The first (hopefully annual) Reentry Day at the Montgomery
County Intermediate Unit brought together a wide array of service providers, non-profits,
MBA members and volunteers to develop a model for helping this vulnerable population.
Participants in Reentry Day had access to information and resources from over two dozen
organizations. Additionally, an identification clinic, employment clinic, and expungement
clinic helped participants with some of the endemic challenges facing people reentering
our community.
The idea and structure for Reentry Day grew out of the Access to Justice Summit
and Reentry Simulation held on May 2nd at the MCIU. A wide range of participants,
including County officials, judges, MBA members, and nonprofit leaders, heard about
the lived experience of people who reentered society following incarceration
and then participated in a hands-on simulation exercise which allowed them
to experience the challenges of someone leaving jail with nothing. This
eye-opening experience illustrated just how difficult it can be to maintain
employment, comply with court supervision, and meet your familial obligations
when necessities like transportation and housing are out of reach.
With the Access to Justice Summit as a blueprint, the 2019 MBA
Leadership Academy was tasked with organizing a model to harness the
resources of the MBA, MBF, County government, and non-profit leaders. Three
of the largest needs identified at the Summit became hands-on clinics to help
people obtain identification, find gainful employment, and expunge eligible
convictions from their records.
Leadership Academy participant Matthew Brittenburg, along with Legal Aid of
Southeastern Pennsylvania, worked to address one of the most pressing issues people
face when leaving incarceration - obtaining an identification or birth certificate. The
overwhelming success and demand for this identification restoration service showed
the dire need for such a basic service in the reentry population. Often, people struggle
to overcome this first step which makes reentry completely overwhelming. Volunteer
attorneys, paralegals, notaries, and both the MBA and MBF showed how the local legal
community can rise to help people overcome this challenge.
Tonya Lupinacci organized and introduced the fantastic event speakers: Montgomery
County Commissioner, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh; Chief Public Defender, Dean Beer; First
Assistant District Attorney, Edward F. McCann, Jr.; and formerly incarcerated citizen
Vernon Steed, who were kind enough to give their time to raise awareness of this
important issue.
Christopher Sperring and Christopher Mandracchia organized local employers,
including J.P. Mascaro and Sons and Shoprite, to conduct on-site interviews and provide
guidance on obtaining employment and interviewing for jobs. In fact, a few on-site
interviews resulted in job offers on the spot showing the value of bringing these services

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SIDEBAR Fall 2019

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