March 2, 2017

Prisoner Reentry: Returning “Home” after Prison — A Lawyer’s Impact


Upon being released, those who have been incarcerated often encounter unanticipated challenges, from figuring out living arrangements to finding work to reconnecting with family and friends. The legal and social challenges facing former prisoners are daunting, and without a strong support system can result in repeated offenses.

The issue of recidivism, and how to decrease the likelihood of a return to crime, has become a topic of conversation in the legal community. Lawyers are well-positioned to help ease the transition from prison to society. Using a former prisoner’s first-hand account as displayed in the documentary “Pull of Gravity,” program attendees learned about the critical role lawyers can play in prisoners’ reentry into society.

Program Speakers Included:

  • Judge R. Felipe Restrepo, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Filmmaker and activist El Sawyer
  • Ryan Hancock, co-founder of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity
  • Maya Sosnov, internship program director for STAR

A cocktail reception followed the program.

About “Pull of Gravity”

El Sawyer and Jon Kaufman’s powerful documentary, “Pull of Gravity,” provides a first-hand account of Mr. Sawyer’s struggles with reentry following eight years in prison, and illuminates the struggles for both prisoners and society in helping people readjust.

About STAR

The Supervision to Aid Reentry Program (STAR) is a federal reentry court program for Philadelphia residents on supervised release, which assists participants with education, training, employment, and other needs.

About Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity

PLSE’s mission is to work toward just outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research, and legislative advocacy.

Questions? Please contact the

Drinker Biddle Philadelphia Office

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