Jim St. Germain came to New York City as a boy from Haiti. A rough home life forced Jim to fend for himself as a kid, where he quickly learned the harsh realities of life on the streets. At age fifteen, he had been handcuffed over a dozen times for stealing and dealing drugs. Jim, like thousands of other young men of color, was falling victim to a system that could not support them. With nowhere to turn, the walls were moving in fast. But, with the help of The Legal Aid Society, Jim was able to transfer a harsh prison sentence into something better; our attorneys helped place Jim in “Boys in Town,” a non-secure detention facility designed to foster rehabilitation in young men. Now surrounded by mentors, compassionate male authority figures, and positive influencers, Jim slowly found his way. Even after his time in the program was over, Jim requested to stay so he could continue his studies there. He thrived with the proper guidance, earning his GED and moving on to get his college education. But Jim has not stopped there. Today, Jim has returned to the community where he lost himself as a young man, working to reform the criminal justice system and offer hope to at-risk youth across the city. Over the years, Jim has built an impressive résumé and has impacted the lives of countless children in need. In addition to working with The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, Jim has served on a number of boards and committees to share his expertise, including the White House Task Force on Twenty-First Century Policing and the National Juvenile Defender Center Board. Jim has worked with government officials and non-profit organizations across the country, making a difference in communities that have been neglected for far too long.
The Legal Aid Society is proud to have played such an influential part in Jim’s life. But our work is far from finished. We continue to represent the young men and women of our city, giving them a fair chance at equal justice. The sad reality is that there are thousands of other New Yorkers like Jim who are simply never given the chance to thrive. With your help, The Legal Aid Society can offer all of our clients the opportunity to succeed. Your support makes the difference. Stand with us today, and help us make an impact on the lives of our fellow New Yorkers.