June 29, 2016
Student Successfully Attains Parole for Client
Evening student Yessica Jovel was able to take the skills she has learned during her time at Southwestern and apply them to successfully attain parole for a client of the law school’s Youth Offender Parole Hearing Practicum.
“The Practicum allowed me to learn first-hand the unique issues facing juvenile offenders and how the ‘hallmarks of youth’ including immaturity, impulsivity, recklessness, and poor judgment affected the decisions many of them made years ago,” Jovel said. “Our client had been denied parole before but he continued to work to rehabilitate himself while incarcerated. It was our job to show the Board that he no longer presented a risk of dangerousness to society. Thankfully, the Board saw that he was ready to become a contributing member of society after 24 years in prison.”
Professor Beth Caldwell, the supervising attorney for the Practicum, praised Jovel’s work, explaining: “Yessica did an extraordinary job of preparing the client and his case for the hearing. She worked closely with him and his family to gather information about challenges he experienced as a child that caused him to join a gang at a young age. She used facts she obtained about his immaturity at the time of the offense and his subsequent rehabilitation in prison to effectively argue that he, like many teenagers who commit crimes, had grown into a responsible adult deserving of a second chance. I would have been impressed with Yessica’s advocacy if she were a practicing attorney, and I was even more impressed given that she is still a law student.”
Jovel participated in the Youth Offender Parole Hearing Practicum because it was an opportunity to work closely with a member of the faculty and gain valuable experience representing a client. “I have an interest in working in public interest once I graduate,” she said. “I could not imagine a more fulfilling hands-on learning experience than the Practicum, and would recommend anyone who has an interest in juvenile justice issues or criminal law to apply.”