Small Tasks, Big Results

Every day, all around the country, PFJ Advocates sit with their clients, assisting with their complex, intersecting challenges, and getting incredible results. During just one week, a PFJ Advocate secured over $40,000 in rental assistance for a client facing eviction, while her colleague eliminated a seven-year prison term with strong communication skills and a well-planned, tailored treatment plan. Another PFJ Advocate supported a client, who only spoke Spanish, through acquiring letters of support so powerful they brought his legal team to tears and resulted in a treatment court option instead of jail. 

However, numbers and statistics do not adequately describe the experience of having a stronger service team at a moment of life-altering crisis. Here, our client Jason explains what it meant to him to work with his Advocate, Eliana:  

When I normally get out, me and my mom basically are on our own to try to figure out how to do social security, food stamps, general assistance. [Eliana got] anything that I needed, really. Health, health insurance, medication, even getting clothes and whatnot, and steering me through all the paperwork that would've took me months, she had it done in a day. …And it's such a difference to where all these things aren't weighing on me no more. It's a fresh start. And then you got this team of people behind you, so you don't want to let them down either. …When you're working with [parole], it seems like you're not able to speak up about what you want, what you need. You're just hoping they don't throw you in jail, you know? But when you're dealing with somebody who's not in a power position above you, but instead is coaxing you along and helping you, it takes your mind and puts it in a positive area, rather than being in your negative, "everything's against me, I don't know what's going on, I'm lost." It takes it and switches it to where, yeah, now I'm on a even playing field, and I feel confident because I trust this person. 

Public defender attorneys are also accustomed to doing their best under difficult circumstances: with high caseloads and substantial backlogs following the pandemic, as well as limited resources and time, these defenders are often struggling to balance the need to find a good legal outcome for their client as well as a good life outcome. 

Assisted by Client Advocates, though, attorneys can do more and get better results.  An example is found in a recent email from a Los Angeles defender: 

“A few weeks ago [Attorney] Marissa, had a client whose case was his first ever involvement in the criminal system. He was extremely anxious because his arrest brought about a chain of events leading him to lose his apartment as well as contact with his minor children. He also felt in the dark about how to adhere to the court’s conditions as someone who had never been involved with the system before. 

[Advocate] Ivy spent a great deal of time with him, addressing each of his complex needs including a referral to a family law attorney, updated information about the classes the court imposed as OR conditions, and a civil referral for an issue with the police escort (which allowed him to retrieve his car so he could get to work). 

The client is now doing well—he has an apartment of his own, custody of his children, and is attending two different kinds of anger management. Ivy also provided what Marissa thinks the client needed the most—a calm person who took the time to listen to him as he processed the events. Marissa ended her input by stating: ‘Client obviously trusts Ivy; she’s done a great job in her holistic advocacy. I’m super impressed.’”

These results aren't an anomaly---you can hear more from attorneys on their PFJ experience here, and hear directly from another of our clients here.

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