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Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) was established in 1973 to serve the legal needs arising from the lack of opportunity, criminalization of poverty, and racial inequity experienced within Chicago's Cabrini Green public housing community. Since then, CGLA has grown beyond a single neighborhood to become a citywide, countywide, and statewide leader in proactively filling the void of legal representation, wraparound services, legal information and resources, and advocacy exclusively for low-income individuals negatively impacted by the criminal legal system. Any engagement with the criminal legal system can greatly disrupt an individual, family, and community's quality of life.


CGLA is distinguished among legal aid service providers locally, throughout Illinois, and nationally as having expertise in legal matters related to the direct and collateral consequences of the criminal legal system. Since 2014, we have been the sole legal aid services provider serving Cook County with the distinction of focusing exclusively on individuals and families who have been adversely impacted by the criminal legal system in all legal program areas: criminal records, emerging adults, criminal defense, housing law, and family law. We provide direct legal services, advocate for policy reforms, and provide legal information and resources to other legal aid organizations, pro bono attorneys, and the general public. We also support our clients holistically with wraparound social services from our social workers. Our policy and advocacy work is not performed as a separate entity; rather it is informed by our legal services and the lived experiences of our Leadership Council, an Advisory Group made up of former CGLA clients and community members directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

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