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Centers for Law and Legal Studies

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Center for Law and Education

The Center for Law and Education (CLE) offers support services on educational issues for advocates working on behalf of low-income students and parents. It seeks to take a leadership role in both improving the quality of public education for low-income students in the United States and enabling low-income communities to address their own public education problems effectively. As part of the nationwide network of support centers funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), it provides specialized legal assistance to staff members of legal services programs and to members of approved panels representing eligible clients. The center has been at the fulcrum of reforms in education policy.

Founded in 1969, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., branches of the center offer advice and collaboration on cases, publications, training, federal program advocacy, and litigation and assist parent and student involvement in education. The center publishes the NEWSNOTES periodical on a quarterly basis, as well as a host of other manuals, monographs, and reports. Its staff includes attorneys, an editor, and administrative support personnel. The center conducts training workshops, usually in conjunction with local legal services programs.

The CLE has been a part of significant lawsuits dealing with the enforcement of federal and state constitutional rights and of federal laws. It focuses on issues such as students' rights, federally funded programs, special education, sex and race discrimination, vocational education, bilingual-bicultural education, and Native-American education. Its staff has pressed significant litigation on the fairness of state programs for competency testing, the right of pupils with limited proficiency in English to understand instruction, the rights of students with disabilities, and racial discrimination in education—among other issues. Whenever feasible, the center encourages the development of local lay advocacy resources to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. A significant portion of the center's work is supported by grants from private funding.

Center for Law and Social Policy

As a national public interest organization, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) seeks to improve the economic conditions of low-income families with children. The Washington, D.C.–based center also attempts to secure access for poor people to the nation's civil justice system through education, policy research, and advocacy. CLASP has worked closely with the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, the children's defense fund, the American Public Welfare Association, and hundreds of other federal and state advocacy organizations. The center helps develop new strategies to fight poverty and stimulates new approaches in the delivery of legal services.

Since its founding in 1969, CLASP has been involved in important court decisions related to welfare distribution. The center headed efforts to preserve professional legal services for poor people. It also organized the first clinical program for law school externs and initiated the National Women's Law Center and the Mental Health Law Project. In the 1990s CLASP got involved in a debate over proposed changes in the welfare system: the center issued a number of publications and began a process of information dissemination that created a conduit so that commissions on welfare could obtain information about each other's activities. As part of its ongoing mission the center has committed itself to the continuing review and analysis of developments in federal and state welfare reform.

CLASP advocates streamlined enforcement of child support. In the 1990s it initiated the ChildNet campaign which was designed to increase public awareness of the need for reform of the enforcement system for child support. In addition, the center attempted to expand the access of teen parents and impoverished adults to education and training programs. As to legislative issues, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, vocally supported by the center, tempers proposed limitations on welfare recipients that would make affordable child care less feasible. Generally, the center has promoted income support policies that enhance work, reduce poverty, and promote the well-being of families.

CLASP maintains a network of state and local advocates who provide training and technical assistance to other advocates and officials. It produces the quarterly Family Matters periodical, newsletters, and periodic updates on new policy developments. It serves as counsel to the hundreds of legal services programs across the United States and their national organizations.

Center for Oceans Law and Policy

The Center for Oceans Law and Policy concerns itself with the future of the oceans and of the coastal and polar areas of the earth. The center has contributed to decisions made on the protection and use of these areas. It supports research, education, and discussion on legal and public issues surrounding oceans policy. It promotes interdisciplinary interaction at all levels—international, national, regional, and state—by conducting conferences and lectures. The center has dedicated itself to education in areas of oceans law and serves as a primary source for ongoing efforts in international research.

In 1976 the center was founded as a part of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. Since its founding the center has established a number of programs to promote discussion of oceans issues. In one such measure it established a teaching program in oceans law at the University of Virginia School of Law, along with the first master of law degree program with specialization in oceans law and policy. In addition, a basic course on oceans law and policy is taught by center personnel at American University, Georgetown University Law Center, and George Washington University Law School. Also working with the University of Virginia's law library, the center established the Newlin Collection on Oceans Law and Policy, believed to be the largest collection of formal and informal materials in oceans law anywhere in the world.

The center's activities include advocacy in five different areas: publications and research (the biennial Director's Report and the Oceans Policy Study Series); international associateships and fellowships; curriculum and teaching programs in oceans law and policy; conferences and seminars; and the Newlin Collection. Through teaching, research, and the dissemination of information, the center seeks to help promote rational choices for maintaining a vital part of the earth's well-being. The center is supported by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation.

Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law (CSWPL) seeks an income support system that provides an adequate standard of living for people in the United States. In attempting to achieve this goal it respects individual rights of privacy, independence, self-determination, and fair treatment. It works as a nonprofit legal and policy organization providing assistance to advocates and poor people's organizations on welfare policy issues in Washington, D.C., and in the rest of the United States.

Since 1965 the CSWPL has pursued an aggressive policy of advocacy for poor people. Its work concentrates on public assistance programs that provide cash subsistence benefits to millions of economically disadvantaged people. The center works to facilitate programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children and general assistance programs at the state and local levels, which together provide services to over 15 million adults and children.

A professional staff of seven attorneys and policy analysts contributes to the center's understanding of welfare policy and law. First, welfare recipients and poor people receive direct representation in federal litigation before appropriate administrative and legislative bodies; this includes litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has established basic due process rights for welfare recipients and ended discriminatory practices of welfare agencies. Second, the center seeks nonpartisan policy analysis designed to identify objective welfare policy issues. Third, by means of public education, the center attempts to increase popular understanding—and dispel myths—about public assistance programs. Fourth, the center disseminates legal analyses of developments in welfare law and policy to more than fourteen hundred welfare specialists in every state and to the poverty law journal Clearinghouse Review. Finally, it provides specialized case assistance with training and training materials for local lawyers, paralegals, and other advocates throughout the United States who are engaged in work that coincides with the center's mission. In the 1990s the center focused on welfare reform proposals.

The center receives financial support from foundations, corporations, the Legal Services Corporation, the Interest on Lawyer Account Fund of the State of New York, law firms, church groups, community organizations, and individuals. Under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the center is a nonprofit corporation with tax exempt status.

Center for the Study of the Presidency

The New York City–based Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) promotes citizenship education, especially for youth. It seeks an understanding of U.S. political and economic systems and relies on a network of college and university faculty and students for its intellectual support. The center conducts high-profile roundtable discussions with political leaders as well as special studies of U.S. political policies. It also maintains a research clearinghouse on the presidency.

The founding of the CSP in 1968 received support from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, "The result [of the center] cannot fail to be good … for the Nation." The New York State Board of Regents chartered the center. Since the center's founding, Dr. R. Gordon Hoxie, a former chancellor of Long Island University, has served as its president and chief executive. Its board of trustees, pursuant to the education law of the state of New York, is limited to twenty-five members. In 1995, membership in the center as a whole reached five thousand business, professional, and government leaders as well as contributors in academia. Corporations and foundations assist in the center's $1 million budget. The center has remained a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational corporation.

The CSP has several objectives. Primarily, it focuses on securing an understanding of the U.S. constitutional system of government. The center also seeks to make itself an objective, nonpartisan body for public policy research. It provides educational programs for college and university students. It seeks to strengthen democratic institutions both at home and abroad: as part of its comprehensive mission and international scope, the center attempts to build a sense of interdependence and understanding between peoples and nations, while recognizing and respecting cultural differences.

The initiation of most of the center's basic programs occurred before the end of 1970. The Annual Leadership Conference, the Annual Student Symposium, the Fellowship Program, the Annual Lecture Series, and the center's publications (annual reports and the Center House Bulletin) date to its early days. In 1974, the Annual Awards Program was added to its activities. In the 1990s, the Annual Business Leaders Symposium and a program for White House interns joined its offerings.

The center is exempt from federal income tax. The Internal Revenue Service has also determined that the center is not a private foundation, making it eligible for "distributions" from foundations.

Jerry Lee Center of Criminology (formerly the Sellin Center)

Founded in 1960 and located in Philadelphia, the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology (formerly the Sellin Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law, which closed in 1998 and was rededicated and renamed in 2001) researches crime, delinquency, the police, judicial systems, prisons, social control, and social deviance. Housed in the Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania, the center also trains graduate students toward master's and doctor's degrees. Studies at the center have produced numerous professional presentations and government reports, books, articles, and monographs.

The Jerry Lee Center views criminology as the scientific study of crime and criminals and society's reaction to both. The center emphasizes the contributions of different disciplines—the behavioral sciences, psychology, anthropology, legal studies, psychiatry, neurology, biology, and the criminal justice system—to criminology.

The center has worked on one of its primary projects since the early 1970s. Delinquency in a Birth Cohort analyzes the largest population of delinquents ever studied in the United States. The project has had a major effect on criminal justice thought throughout the world and has become a frequently cited publication in the field of criminology. Another project focuses on delinquency in the People's Republic of China. Students in both the center and China have participated in this extensive project. Many of the center's studies—of both national and international scope—have been cited in testimony before the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

The Jerry Lee Center has worked with officials in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. It has provided technical assistance to the mayor's and district attorney's offices and to judges and other officials in Philadelphia. The center has also worked with the New Jersey Public Defender's Office in using an extensive database to assess possible discriminatory practices in the imposition of capital punishment.

Further Readings

Center for Law and Education (CLE). Available online at <http://www.cleweb.org> (accessed November 20, 2003).

Center for Law and Social Policy. Available online at <http://www.clasp.org> (accessed November 20, 2003).

Center for Oceans Law and Policy. 1990. Report of the director. Available online at <http://www.virginia.edu/colp> (accessed November 20, 2003).

Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP). 1995. A Time of Transition: 1994–95 Annual Report. New York: CSP.

A Description of the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law. 1994. New York, December.

Jerry Lee Center for Criminology. Available online at <http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee> (accessed November 20, 2003).

Litman, Alyssa. 2001. "Penn Celebrates Opening of New Center for Criminology." Daily Pennsylvanian online (October 16).

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