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College of Law

Florida State University


2005 Press Releases

CAC Wins National Award for Children in Prison Project

May 01, 2005

TALLAHASSEE—The College of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Center has won one of the most prestigious awards in clinical education for its Children in Prison Project.

The center’s co-directors Paolo Annino and Ruth Stone were in Chicago earlier this month to accept the Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Project from the Clinical Legal Education Association. One of the center’s students also was recognized for her work on the project and Stone won two writing awards.

The Public Interest award recognizes an outstanding clinical law school project that contributes to the public good. Alexander Scherr, president of CLEA, said the group seeks projects that reflect “creative and high-quality solutions to novel problems.”

CLEA’s awards committee chair Andrea Seislstad called the Children in Prison Project a “very good example of a project that addresses very important issues of a much underrepresented group of people for a sustained period.”

Clinical law students involved in the Children in Prison Project advocate for improved prison conditions, such as better nutrition and education, for juvenile inmates (13-15 years old) in adult prisons. Under the supervision of clinical professors, students also perform post-conviction work, such as filing appeals and motions for re-hearings, research patterns of abuse in prison and track the number of children in the prison system. Among other clients, the center represents juvenile inmates applying to the governor and cabinet for executive clemency.

The project has been featured on National Public Radio, 60 Minutes II and was a The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover feature. It also has received international media attention in magazines such as Spain’s El Pais Semanal and Germany’s Bild.

Third-year student Jamie Ito received CLEA’s annual Outstanding Student Award for her work with the project. CLEA created the award to honor a law student at each law school who has excelled in a clinical course. Ito conducted in-depth interviews with juveniles in Florida’s adult prison, drafted an extensive clemency petition and numerous affidavits.

Stone also was presented with second and third-place prizes in the CLEA Creative Writing Contest for her short stories titled “Ozzie Mendez” and “A World of Trouble.” The entries were judged by Richard Sweren, a writer and producer of the television show “Law & Order”; Ross Berger, a New York City screenwriter; and David Gould, who coauthored the book Blood Brothers with Sol Wachler, a former New York appellate judge. In 2000, the first year that the writing contest was held, Stone placed second for her story, “Napolean and the Battle of Midway,” and in 2001, she won the first-place award for “Clearwater.” “Clearwater” will be published shortly by the Thomas N. Cooley Journal of Practical and Clinical Law

Founded in 1991, the Children's Advocacy Center trains second- and third-year law students in legal advocacy with an emphasis on intensive one-on-one and small group instruction. It represents children, persons with disabilities, and victims of domestic violence. It also handles special education, Medicaid, foster care, delinquency, criminal, school expulsions, developmental services, supplemental security income.

May 2005