AmeriCorps members serve at both rural and urban Public Defender offices throughout the state of Alaska. They work one-on-one with clients referred by attorneys, helping them to access resources, apply for benefits, and enroll in substance use disorder treatment. These interventions have the long-term objective of decreasing recidivism and increasing clients’ day-to-day stability and ease of community re-integration.
1. Meet with Public Defender Agency clients referred by attorneys and complete background interviews to determine clients’ social/health/economic needs. Client meetings will take place both in offices and in correctional centers.
2. Assist clients in applying for substance use disorder treatment and government assistance including Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF.
3. Connect clients with community resources in areas including housing; mental health services; employment; and nutrition assistance.
4. Advocate for clients with community resource providers and Department of Corrections officials.
5. Maintain professional working relationships with community resources and local service providers; coordinate services among providers as needed.
6. Maintain client records by documenting all client interactions and efforts made to connect clients to services.
7. Accompany clients to court hearings and appointments as a support.
Community Need Addressed
The recidivism (repeat offender) rate in the state of Alaska is approximately 66%. Mass incarceration continues to plague the nation and Alaska is no different. Studies have shown that devoting resources to clients' non-legal needs (housing, mental health, substance use disorder, public benefits, etc.) can be a key factor in contributing to decreased recidivism rates as well as decreased incarceration rates. Currently, there are few social services available to indigent Alaskans in the pre-trial phase of a criminal matter, and we are working to address this need through our AmeriCorps program. Members serve as Client Service Navigators in our offices, working to connect Public Defender Agency clients with critical community and government resources.
In the short-term, AmeriCorps member service leads to increased access to housing, food, education, employment, medical care, and substance use disorder treatment for low-income, justice involved Alaskans. In the long-term, we expect to see decreased recidivism rates and incarceration rates among clients connected to services, an increase in successful outcomes in clients' legal matters, and increased ease of community re-integration upon release from a correctional center or resolution of the legal proceeding.
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Living allowance, Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training
Member Assistance Program
12 months direct experience in a law office, within the criminal justice system, performing reentry-related tasks, and with social service coordination.
Skills you will gain
Communication, time-management, ability to work independently & as a member of a team, leadership, workshop facilitation, familiarity with the criminal justice system, goal-oriented planning & problem solving
Competencies You Will Develop
Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Speak clearly, in precise language and in a logical, organized and coherent manner, Write cleary and effectively
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Communicate the problem to appropriate personnel, Improvise, Select and implement well-considered solution
Develop constructive working relationships and maintain them over time, Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented, Use appropriate strategies and solutions for dealing with conflicts and differences to maintain a smooth workflow
Accepts responsibility, Anticipate the consequences of decisions, Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Involve people appropriately in decisions that may impact them, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Consistently choose the best tool or technological solution for the problem at hand
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Create environment of contribution, Create plan of action, schedule tasks so that work is completed on time, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Evaluate customer or client satisfaction, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Provide personalized, prompt, and efficient service to meet the requirements, requests and needs of customers, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization, Understand the significance of maintaining a healthful and safe environment