Clinic Releases Guide for People Seeking Sentence Modifications


For years, the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School has successfully assisted several clients seeking reduction of their criminal sentences. Despite the impact of these successes for clinic clients, students and clinical supervisors knew that the need for representation across Connecticut was greater than any single law school clinic could provide.

To help provide a solution, students in the Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic brainstormed ways to empower incarcerated individuals, their friends, and their families to work alongside attorneys to prepare sentencing modification packets.

READ: Sentence Modification in Connecticut: A Guide for Those Navigating the §53a-39 Process

The result is a new guide — Sentence Modification in Connecticut — written by Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic student Jammie Walker ’24 based on his experience representing a client in a successful sentencing modification.

“I developed this project to empower individuals in Connecticut with knowledge on how to navigate the sentence modification process,” Walker said.

Title 53a, Chapter 952, Section 53a-39 of the Connecticut General Statutes governs sentence modifications across the state. The clinic’s guide details the 53a-39 sentence modification process and includes information on gathering and organizing the materials necessary to create the most compelling petition possible. It outlines the ways in which supporters can be most helpful to a person seeking a sentence modification and provides the information, templates, and official forms necessary to navigate the sentence modification process.

One goal of the guide, according to Walker, is to engage directly impacted individuals as well as their friends and family so that when they approach an attorney, some of the nonlegal work is already complete. The guide also aims to illustrate the ways in which the sentence modification process itself can be a community-building endeavor that harnesses a broad coalition of support for individuals seeking a second chance.

“Through this guide, I hope to share that the lessons we have learned at the clinic with the broader Connecticut community,” Walker said.