FJRC History

Expansions in Education and Service: 1975 - 1990

In the mid-1970s, LAIP took on the basic shape that it would retain into the early 1990s. From a small number of interns, all of whom worked at one prison, then called the Wisconsin State Prison (now Waupun), the Program expanded to the Wisconsin State Reformatory at Green Bay, the Fox Lake Correctional Institution, and the prison for women at Taycheedah, Wisconsin.

When Wisconsin sold its newly built prison at Oxford to the United States Bureau of Prisons in 1974, the Program moved to provide services in the new federal prison and to diversify the educational opportunities afforded law students. In the mid-1970s, the Program also began to provide services at the three state mental health institutions. Student interns were initially assigned to Central State Hospital, where they provided legal services for mental patients under criminal commitments. These clients proved to be challenging for the law students, since communication was difficult and the patients' criminal commitments raised complex legal issues.

Supervising attorneys and staff in 1994

In 1974, the Program's original grant expired, precipitating a financial crisis. Professor Remington persuaded the legislature to add funding for the program to the University's budget, reflecting the high regard in which he was held and the importance of the Program to the criminal justice system of the state. These legislative funds, added to the Law School's base budget in 1975, are a cornerstone of Program funding. Contracts with the Wisconsin DOC, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Wisconsin State Public Defender, and the two dozen Wisconsin counties in which prosecution interns work provide the other half of funding for the Program. This contract funding has continued for more than twenty years, a tribute to the quality of the Program and the respect it commands in the legislature and other government circles.

With the new funding in place, the Program continued to thrive. LAIP had quickly outgrown the space the law building could provide for it. In 1975, Professors Remington and Dickey persuaded the University to make available an old building near the Law School that had once housed the old Blackhawk Cafe and then was home to the State Crime Laboratory. The poor physical condition of the building made it ill-suited for LAIP use, but it did provide some muchneeded office space for supervising attorneys. Professors Remington and Dickey quickly went to work raising money within the university to remodel the building. They felt that a favorable working environment would help law students develop a professional orientation toward service to clients. By 1979, the building provided an office for every supervising attorney and secretary, a modest library collection, and a desk for every student intern. A way from the distractions of other Law School activities, the new space afforded students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Program.

Professors Dickey and Remington continually tried to create an exemplary professional working environment. The importance attached to professionalism was also shown in the high priority given to providing some compensation in the summer months, enabling interns to avoid the distractions of work in other places. Gathered together in one building, the students were also able to learn from one another as they discussed their common experiences and concerns.

LAIP came to serve many more students each year, yet the general format remained very close to that of the original internship program. It was an "immersion" experience in the correctional system. At the start of the summer, classroom instruction provided basic information on the justice system and professional responsibility. Students then interviewed clients at the correctional and mental health institutions. Through discussion with other students and clinical faculty, they developed approaches to handling individual problems and a broad understanding of the lawyer-client relationship and the criminal justice system. They drafted legal documents and argued cases in court. And they were exposed to leaders in the field of criminal justice who, as visitors to the Law School, offered their perspectives on current problems to assembled students. Twice-weekly meetings afforded the opportunity for discussion on a broad range of topics, from the guilty plea to detainers to the representation of convicted offenders.

A Supervising Attorney and Student

This immersion experience - a group of people gathered in a professional atmosphere, working fulltime in service of clients and using diverse methods to advance that service and their own education - is still the core method of the Remington Center and it is used, with slight variation, in all its projects.

An essential ingredient necessary to execute this educational philosophy is a "place" where attorneys, faculty, students and guests can work together - to develop professional habits and to grow from the formal interaction and the informal. So when the Program offices at 913 University Avenue were demolished in 1991 to make way for a new building for the Business School, the Program moved to quarters a few blocks away, at 212 N. Bassett Street. Although farther away from the Law School, the Bassett Street building did provide enough space for the continually growing LAIP program. As the reputation of LAIP grew among law students, and the Wisconsin prison system expanded, summer internships increased from eight (in 1964) to fifteen (in 1974) to forty (in 1980) to fifty-five (in 1991).

The collegiality fostered by Professors Remington and Dickey has always provided opportunities for clinical faculty and students to develop new ideas. Over the years, they and the clinical faculty recognized that it was necessary to move beyond simply corrections in order to adequately educate law students and to enhance the quality of the criminal justice system. In 1987, Clinical Assistant Professor David Cook created the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP). This new project brought victims and offenders together after conviction in order to help victims to heal and help offenders understand and take responsibility for what they had done. Typically, after a good deal of preparation, the offender met the victim, apologized for the harm, listened to the victim explain the effect of the crime, and acknowledged responsibility for it. This groundbreaking program would go on to become what is known today as the Restorative Justice Project, the first such program for sentenced prisoners. It continues to result in moving encounters, rewarding for every one involved, including the law student. The Restorative Justice Project has established a national reputation and has been instrumental in the development of community-based projects throughout Wisconsin and in many other states.

Similarly, in the late 1980s, Professors Remington and Dickey concluded that a project aimed at law students who wanted to become criminal prosecutors would help to enhance the quality of prosecution in Wisconsin. Accordingly, they convinced the Wisconsin Legislature to provide a permanent appropriation to fund the Prosecution Project, which would develop and implement summer field placements in prosecutors' offices throughout Wisconsin. In 1990, Clinical Associate Professor Ben Kempinen took over the fledgling project. Under his guidance, the Prosecution Project has grown to include 25 students each summer, who work in over twenty district attorney offices throughout Wisconsin. A few years later, Clinical Associate Professor Michele LaVigne, with funding from the Wisconsin State Public Defender, developed a similar summer placement experience in public defender offices around the state. In both projects, a spring semester class component and a fall semester reflective seminar complement the students' summer placement.

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