2L Student Clerks for Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network

2L Student Clerks for Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network

Arianna Diaz-Wightman, 2L
By Sam Hinds

Arianna Diaz-Wightman, 2L

2L Student Clerks for Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network

By Sam Hinds
Student will work on guide for prisoners whose voting rights are affected by incarceration.

Arianna Diaz-Wightman, a 2L and first-year transfer student at Miami Law with an interest in social justice and public interest law, believes in fighting for those who are often shut out of the system. She has begun to do just that, working as a law clerk for the Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network (PLAN). The final product of this work will be a guide for those whose voting rights are affected by incarceration.

PLAN is a coalition of jailhouse lawyers, attorneys, presently and formerly incarcerated individuals, and other advocates who seek to address the unmet legal needs of incarcerated people. Diaz-Wightman works with PLAN’s Election Protection Jail & Post-Release Working Group, the largest non-partisan coalition – composed of over 200 local and state organizations – that works towards protecting the right to vote in the United States.

Her work entails legal research to determine the voting eligibility of those in various states who are presently and formerly incarcerated, also known as system-impacted voters. Diaz-Wightman’s research can include meeting with national voting rights leaders in collaborative meetings to discuss any cases or statutes that would affect eligibility and also determining the actual feasibility of voting. This research will be compiled and distributed in “Know Your Rights” guides which will be distributed to system-impacted voters to inform them of their rights.

“I do not believe in sitting idly by and allowing the government to cherry pick those they believe are worthy of rights; that is a slippery slope,” Diaz-Wightman said. “This work is important because so many people do not want to do it, support it, or fight for it.”

Diaz-Wightman has enjoyed her first semester of law school in Miami, taking full advantage of Miami Law’s resources and services. It was through Miami Law's HOPE Public Interest Research Center’s weekly newsletter that she found the clerking opportunity with PLAN. “Plus, you can’t beat the views!” she said when discussing her experiences on campus.

“Just because someone is currently incarcerated for a crime, or was previously, does not negate that they are people and that they have rights,” Diaz-Wightman said when discussing her work with PLAN. “System impacted individuals are people who are worthy of help, and we cannot stand by and allow our legal system to mistreat them and ignore their rights.”

Read more about Social Justice and Public Interest at Miami Law