September 2015

Press Release

The Foundation for Improvement of Justice, Inc.

September 3, 2015

The Foundation for Improvement of Justice, a private not-for-profit institution founded in 1984 for the purpose of improving local, state, and federal systems of justice within the United States of America, hosted its 30th awards banquet on September 26, 2015 at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta.  At the banquet we honored our 2015 Paul H. Chapman award winners.  Each year, the Foundation accepts nominations for the b to recognize and reward individuals or organizations whose innovative programs and work have made improvements in the various systems of justice.   Over $2,440,000 in cash awards have been distributed since 1986.  This year’s award winners are:

CONSERVATOR ACCOUNT AUDITING PROGRAM, St. Paul, MN – is recognized for modernizing and improving the way the state of Minnesota oversees the work of conservators by implementing a first-of-its-kind online accounting system for conservators as well as establishing a centralized statewide conservator account auditing center staffed by trained experts leading to a reduction of paperwork and stronger oversight of conservator accounts.

HONORABLE MICHAEL DENTON, Austin, TX – is recognized for his work advocating for and overseeing the first Travis County Domestic Violence Court.  He has been the sole judge to preside over that court since its establishment in 1999.  Initially the court handled civil protective order hearings and criminal misdemeanor cases but added felony criminal cases five years ago.  He has been recognizes on local, state and national levels and shares his expertise and knowledge through conferences to judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, state legislators, advocates and survivors.

LATINO UNION, Chicago, IL – is recognized for their efforts over the past fifteen years working in coalition with other Chicago and Illinois organizations to win numerous legal reforms expanding marginalized and informal workers’ access to civil law remedies for injustices experienced on the job.  Latino Union led the Just Pay for All Coalition in passing the reforms to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collections Act in 2010 that are among the strongest protections in the nation.  They have also given thousands of low-income and immigrant workers the tools to seek justice through education and aid filing forms.

RICHARD RAVOSA, ESQ., Boston, MA – is recognized for his pro-bono work with low income clients needing bankruptcy relief beginning in 2009.  In 2011 with the help of his staff, they formed the charitable Debt Relief Foundation, the only one in the state dedicated exclusively to representing residents in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filings.  They also assist client in completing credit counseling and financial management courses.  Mr. Ravosa funded nearly 100% of these services out of his own pocket until the foundation received 501(c)(3) status in 2013 allowing them to raise funds to continue to grow the organization.  These services help reduce congestion in state courts and because they are handled by experienced bankruptcy lawyers, speed the process.

REHABILITATION THROUGH THE ARTS, Katonah, NY – is recognized for its success in reducing recidivism in prisons and changing the lives of a population with little hope for a meaningful future.  Professional artist volunteers teach classes in five maximum and medium men’s and women’s prisons in theatre, dance, music, voice, creative writing and visual arts.  Participants build personal, social, and cognitive life skills critical to functioning in all aspects of life inside and outside prison.  A theatre program for at-risk youth and a program to join former prisoners with professionals to create an original play about the challenges of re-entering society were recently launched.