Studios - University of Houston
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To date, the measures of success for holistic defense are primarily those traditionally used by the criminal justice system. However, given that holistic indigent defense addresses domains well beyond legal outcomes and recidivism, it is vital to identify ways to comprehensively evaluate and monitor it. This studio has the potential to inform the future design of electronic record systems so that data entry addresses the robust services that comprise holistic indigent defense. 

This is vital as there are not electronic record systems specifically tailored to holistic indigent defense, which requires the documentation and digital collaboration between social services, legal services, mentors, and family/community assistance. Accurate record keeping is a valuable key in the expansion of holistic defense across the country and can be improved with the creation of new data systems. This studio will take place in collaboration with the University of Houston College of Technology faculty and students currently working on creating a specialized record system for holistic defense.     

group of people on a mountain


The social services studio addresses the range of clients need from access to healthcare to transportation to housing, etc. For instance, most incarcerated people have experienced trauma that if left unaddressed can negatively impact a client's movement through the justice system. This studio will identify the ways that trauma-informed practices can span the holistic defense process.  

Next, despite clients having the right to legal protection that includes “mitigation,” (i.e., advocacy for reduced sentences) in practice this is often inadequate or overlooked for indigent clients.  This component of the studio is of vital importance as most states do not have standards or systems for mitigation certification.  The result is that mitigation training varies drastically and is often an “on the job” skill rather than in accordance with set practices and expectations. This studio will take place in collaboration with the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Social workers, case managers, client advocates, and students will find this studio particularly useful.  

conference meeting


The need to identify and optimize the training of lawyers new to holistic defense is required for the expansion of holistic indigent defense across the nation. This will be rooted in the establishment of a strong definition of integrated and holistic defense. This studio will invite discussions aimed at identifying both the components and timing of holistic indigent defense training. This will assist in the conceptualization and implementation of a holistic indigent defense fellowship program within Restoring Justice. Across this studio, considerations of the best way to measure effectiveness and engagement with content will be of central importance.