215 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol.36:3 2016]
According to the Steans Family Foundation, the median household income in North Lawndale
in 2000 was $18,342 and the unemployment rate was 13.5%.107 In 2004, North Lawndale had a
high school graduation rate of 38.8%, the city of Chicago had an overall average high school
graduation rate of 56.6%, and the national average was 70%.108 In 2008, 64% of Chicago juvenile
arrests occurred in ten districts, with North Lawndale ranking second among the ten.109 In 2001,
57% of the residents of North Lawndale were either in prison, on probation, or on parole.110 In that
same year, 2,442 residents of North Lawndale were sentenced to prison and 68% of these
individuals were incarcerated for drug related offenses.111 The 2010 census showed that 10,000
males from North Lawndale were in prison, resulting in “permanent or intermittent father absence,
decreased family income, and a heavy reliance on grandparents for parenting.”112 The members of
Lawndale Community Church founded the Legal Center to address some of these pressing needs.
LCLC, through its lead attorney Clifford Nellis, represents youth twenty-four-years-old and
younger in the North Lawndale community who are involved in Chicago’s juvenile or adult
criminal courts, regardless of their ability to pay.113 LCLC provides quality legal representation,
but it also offers “compassionate social health services and one-on-one mentoring” designed to
provide youth with holistic treatment on their path to rehabilitation.114 After agreeing to
representation, LCLC provides its youth with an attorney and a social worker to support him or
her for the duration of the case, as well as after the case has finished.115 Youth in the program meet
regularly with a case manager to create a “game plan” for success that is designed specifically for
the youth’s individual needs.116 LCLC’s program has three phases, which include pending case,
aftercare, and alumni: “Our services begin while our youth have a case pending in juvenile or adult
criminal court and continue after the case is over during their period of supervision, probation,
incarceration, or parole, or for six months if they are found not guilty.”117
Mr. Nellis, other volunteer attorneys, social service providers, and community mentors are all
part of the effort to help these young men and women navigate the juvenile and adult criminal
justice systems.118 Its advisory board consists of seventeen members from a diverse range of
107 Clifford Nellis, Presentation Given at Lawndale Community Church (August 22, 2010) (on file with author). See
also North Lawndale Today, STEANS FAMILY FOUND. http://www.steansfamilyfoundation.org/lawndale_today.shtml
(last visited Dec. 10, 2015) [hereinafter STEANS FAMILY FOUND.].
108 STEANS FAMILY FOUND., supra note 107.
113 About Us, supra note 106. LCLC has a few requirements for young men and women who participate in its program.
Holistic Legal Services, LAWNDALE CHRISTIAN LEGAL CTR.,
http://lclc.net/programs/holisticlegalservices/ (last visited Apr. 27, 2016). They must: (1) pay a $25 processing fee;
(2) put in writing career goals and the steps needed to achieve those goals; and (3) engage in a mentoring relationship.
115 Lawndale Christian Legal Center Newsletter (October 2012) (on file with author).
117 Id. LCLC works with youth in the program for an average of three years. Id. After one of the youth in its program
is completely out from under the criminal justice system, completes LCLC’s program, and “demonstrates good
citizenship and leadership in [the] community,” LCLC holds an Annual Graduation and Awards Ceremony where
they “honor youth who have graduated from [the] program.” Id.