Poverty Lab Lawndale Christian Legal Center

African American youth who interact with the criminal justice system often face additional hardships like unemployment or housing instability that, compounded by inadequate legal representation from an underfunded and overburdened public defender system, make incarceration and recidivism more likely. Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) connects high-risk court-involved youth in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood to legal and social services within the community. LCLC aims to provide timely, comprehensive supports that match the unique needs of each client to decrease involvement in the criminal justice system and increase access to services for education and vocational achievement. The Poverty Lab will conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate LCLC’s holistic model, comparing their outcomes to youth represented by public defenders alone. If effective, LCLC’s services could offer a new paradigm for deploying legal and social supports in the criminal justice system.