LGBT/Human Rights Advocates from African Nations Visit Maryland Legal Aid

On Thursday, April 13, Maryland Legal Aid welcomed delegates from 11 African nations including Cameroon, Congo, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe to its Baltimore City office. The Delegates were invited to the United States as part of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program arranged by the Institute of International Education. Maryland Legal Aid was joined by special guest Maryland District Court Judge Mark F. Scurti, who helped facilitate a discussion about LGBT and Human Rights in Maryland. Judge Scurti was a founding member of FreeState Justice (formerly FreeState Legal), a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ("LGBT") Marylanders. The discussion focused on how the intersection of LGBT, civil, and human rights issues can be used to train judiciaries and private citizens, here and abroad, about the issues that affect LGBT communities.

District Court Judge Mark Scurti, Maryland Legal Aid's Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr., and Senior Staff Attorney for Human Rights Abena Williams during the meeting with the delegates

Staff Attorney Alexa Bertinelli (back row left), Abena Williams (front row center) and Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr. (back row center) with the delegates

Victims Assistance Outreach

On April 12, Paralegal Tamia Diggs from Maryland Legal Aid's Victims Assistance Unit co-facilitated a Bystander Intervention Training at Morgan State University with Samantha Black, Outreach Coordinator from TurnAround, Inc.

Tamia and Samantha spoke to groups of students in different dormitories about what they can do if a friend or someone they know has been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. They also distributed information about the services they provide through Maryland Legal Aid's Victims of Crime Act grant.

Maryland Legal Aid Paralegal Tamia Diggs and Samantha Black, Outreach Coordinator from TurnAround, Inc., conducting a training at Morgan State University on April 12.

On April 13, Tamia and Samantha participated in the Take back the Night event on the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus. April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month and during the month many campuses held rallies and resource fairs in support of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. 

Tamia and Samantha distributed information and spoke to people about the services that Maryland Legal Aid and TurnAround provide through the Victims of Crime Act grant. The event was attended by almost 200 people and attendees had opportunities to share their personal stories about issues of abuse and domestic violence.  

Maryland Legal Aid Paralegal Tamia Diggs and Samantha Black, Outreach Coordinator from TurnAround, Inc., at the Take Back the Night event on April 13.

Attendees of the Take Back the Night event filled the Student Center on the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

DOJ National Reentry Week

The United States Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office for Access to Justice announced that April 24-28, 2017 was National Reentry Week. National Reentry Week featurea number of events, announcements, and publications that demonstrated the federal government's commitment to improving reentry outcomes of previously incarcerated individuals and raise awareness of the importance of successful reentry. Many community-based services, including legal aid programs, hosted reentry-related events across the country. This year, Maryland Legal Aid welcomed guests from the DOJ to observe an expungement clinic at Goodwill Industries in Baltimore City, where more than 60 people received civil legal assistance and criminal record expungements. Last year for National Reentry Week, the DOJ visited Maryland Legal Aid's Lawyer in the Library clinic at the Pennsylvania Avenue branch of Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Maryland Legal Aid advocates, staff from Goodwill Industries, and guests from the DOJ at a Maryland Legal Aid expungement clinic held at Goodwill Industries on April 24 during National Reentry Week.