Shepherd intern Lorna Closeil (Everett, Massachusetts) served for eight weeks this summer at the Georgia Justice Project (GJP), a non-profit organization comprised of attorneys, social workers and policy workers.
“Initially, I was interested in becoming a Shepherd intern, because I was fascinated by the way the program is able to form a consortium across sectors, whether that be in the legal, education or health sector with an anti-poverty focus,” she said.
As an anthropology and sociology major with a minor in gender studies and social justice, Closeil said she became increasingly interested when she discovered it would provide her with the opportunity to take what she’s learned in the classroom and apply it to ground-level work.
The organization provides criminal defense representation for indigent populations and aids individuals with expunging their criminal arrest records, given the housing and job barriers that come with living in Georgia and having a criminal record.
“GJP also does policy work as well, where they have been integral in policy efforts such as ‘Ban the Box,’ which aims to rid the expectation that individuals must check off whether or not they have been convicted of a felony,” she added. “The direct and systemic nature of the model is what led me to serve here. At GJP, clients are viewed as holistic beings and more than just their criminal records.”
Throughout the internship, Closeil assisted with client intake, which is screening clients to ensure that they qualify for GJP’s services, working on their purge project, where they transfer old court files into a database and planning their back-to-school event.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to also experience attending drug court, participating in an office book club, having lunch with Justice Melton, who serves on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and also going to Alabama with the office, where we attended the newly opened Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, along with the Equal Justice Initiative,” she said.
Closeil said that after this experience, she hopes to be able to get a better idea of how she wants to engage with the social justices in the world.
“Because GJP works on multiple levels—legal, social and policy—I want to be able to learn where exactly I fit in and where my gifts can be used to help alliterate individuals of suffering,” she concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
August 7, 2016
Header photo: Lorna Closeil ’20 (second from left) stands with other undergraduate and legal interns at the Georgia Justice Project.