Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

AMARA LEGAL CENTER INC

Empowering our clients to live self-determined lives

aka Amara Legal Center

Washington, DC

Mission

The Amara Legal Center provides free legal services to individuals whose rights have been violated through commercial sex.

Amara recognizes that while there are different paths that lead a person into commercial sex, many individuals face a common set of legal issues. Amara serves survivors of sex trafficking and any other individual harmed by commercial sex in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We are committed to fighting tirelessly to provide excellent legal representation to our clients, to connecting survivors with vital social services, and to raising public awareness of the legal issues facing our clients.

Notes from the Nonprofit

The Amara Legal Center fights tirelessly for the rights of our clients. We are one of the leading forces in the DC metro area advocating for the rights of those who have suffered a violation of rights while involved in commercial sex, whether that involvement was through choice, coercion or circumstance. We strive to provide world-class legal services to our clients all at zero cost to our clients. Additionally, we engage in advocacy and awareness-raising work which is changing the landscape of our region through stronger laws, more compassionate systems actors, and ultimately safer and more empowered clients. We hope you'll join us in this incredible movement to make the voices of those impacted heard throughout our country.

Ruling Year

2014

Founder and Executive Director

Stacie Reimer

President of the Board of Directors

Brandon Hadley

Main Address

P.O. Box 18391

Washington, DC 20036 USA

Keywords

Amara, Amara Legal, sex trafficking, survivors, human rights, legal services, free, restitution, VA, MD, DC, restraining order, pimp, commercial sex, sex labor, victim

EIN

46-3819394

 Number

2530829097

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Expungement of Criminal Records

Civil Protection Orders

Family Law

Public Benefits

Advocacy in Criminal Cases

Specialized Advocacy

Victim-witness Advocacy

Divorce

Name change

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of clients served

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Males,

LGBTQ people

Context notes

Amara tracks all client information in its secure Pika database. All client details are tracked meticulously and held confidentiality.

Number of people accessing aids or adaptations as a percentage of the number of people receiving a service from the Occupational Therapy service

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Males,

LGBTQ people

Context notes

During 2017, 90% of Amara's clients are connected to social services. Amara attorneys work diligently to both connect and strengthen relationships between clients and social service organizations.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Amara has three broad goals: (1) Amara provides trauma-informed legal services for survivors whose rights have been violated while involved in commercial sex; (2) Amara increases awareness about domestic sex trafficking through local trainings; and, (3) Amara advocates for policies that will positively impact the lives of our clients.

Amara's largest program is the direct legal representation program. Amara primarily receives clients through partnerships with local referral sources. Currently, Amara serves between 50-60 clients at any given time. These cases involve child custody, civil protection orders, criminal record expungement, criminal defense cases, victim-witness advocacy, and various other types of civil cases.

Secondly, Amara is engaged in advocacy and outreach. Amara attorneys regularly conduct trainings with nonprofit lawyers and social services organizations on identifying a survivor of sex trafficking and referring this population to appropriate services. As a result of these trainings, many trainees realized that they have had clients who were survivors of sex trafficking, but did not know how to properly identify and refer them for services. After an organization is trained, Amara typically sees an increase in referrals from the organization. Furthermore, Amara conducts trainings for survivors in-house at our partner organizations. These trainings focus on the legal rights of survivors, how to navigate the legal system, and various other practical topics.

Finally, Amara has recently been engaged in policy advocacy for a vacatur statute in D.C. The vacatur statute, if passed, will allow an individual who was convicted of prostitution or prostitution-related crimes while a victim of sex trafficking to petition to have the conviction vacated, or erased. Amara assisted in writing this bill and formed a coalition of 12 nonprofits to advocate for the bill. The vacatur statute will likely be introduced in early 2017 before the D.C. Council.

Amara provides a centralized place to meet the most common legal needs faced by domestic survivors of sex trafficking with attorneys who are trained to interact with trauma survivors. Trauma-informed services ensure effective communication with clients and empower them to make choices that are responsive to their unique legal needs. Amara understands, recognizes, and responds to the trauma clients have faced in their lives. Amara's clients have expressed frustration working with attorneys in the past who are not trained in trauma-informed care. Amara brings a specialized perspective to this population and therefore has greater rates of client satisfaction.

Amara prides itself on tracking its client service outcomes carefully using Pika, Amara's case management database program. In the last fiscal year, Amara was awarded a grant from the D.C. Government to fund the creation of a personalized Pika database, which will track all client outcomes at regular intervals throughout the service period and for 12 months after the service period has concluded. To collect qualitative data, surveys will be administered to each client before and after the provision of services, and 90% of those served will report satisfaction in the legal services administered.

To collect quantitative data, Amara staff attorneys will use the Pika database screening questions at regular intervals throughout service delivery. Amara will track various aspects of our clients' lives to evaluate improvements in overall quality of life. Examples of these aspects are access to stable housing, employment, healthcare, and separation from abusers.

In 2017 alone, Amara provided legal assistance within 207 case matters for 177 clients with only four full-time staff attorneys. A large part of our practice is serving as attorneys on behalf of victims who have been asked to testify in criminal prosecutions against their trafficker or other abuser. Amara had 36 of these cases in the past year. Our clients have been victimized and experienced extreme power and control by their traffickers. Unfortunately, many of our clients also experience similar tactics of control and coercion within the criminal justice system throughout the prosecution of these cases. By serving as a victim's attorney, we are able to shield our clients from coercive tactics often used in the system, give victims control over their level of involvement in the prosecution, and ensure the victim's rights are enforced.
Furthermore, 90% of Amara's clients were connected to social services. Amara attorneys work diligently to both connect clients with social services and strengthen clients' existing relationships with social services. Amara credits much of its success to its partnerships with multiple local nonprofits which provide counseling, housing, and case management to our clients.
Finally, Amara's clients often express gratitude to their attorneys for the life-changing work accomplished on their cases. For example, many of our clients have been able to find housing and employment after successfully expunging or sealing their criminal records, and many of our clients have been safely reunited with their children through obtaining civil protection orders and final custody orders. In 2017, Amara expunged or sealed criminal records for 40 clients, obtained nine civil protection orders for clients, and represented 18 clients in child custody cases.
Amara has also received a grant from the DC government to create a diversion program for individuals charged with prostitution at DC Superior Court. Amara has made many strong connections with local stakeholders through productive meetings, held multiple focus groups with survivors of sex trafficking to receive feedback on the design of the program, has created the LEAD Coalition (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), consisting of six nonprofit partners, and has completed about 90% of a 50 state survey of all diversion programs for prostitution and sex trafficking in the country. The program will allow individuals who have been charged with prostitution to seek social services as an alternative to traditional criminal punishment. DC does not currently have a program like this, and we believe that at least 10 individuals will enter into the program every month and be connected with vital social support services once the program is running.
Amara hosted a book launch for one of our former clients who published an autobiography that gave an insider's perspective into the world of sex trafficking.

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Financials

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Operations

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

No

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

No

Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

We do not display sexual orientation information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity