Legal Aid Clinic for Prisoners

Penitentiary Institution Nieuwegein

Going to the prisons of Nieuwegein and Nieuwersluis and providing legal advice orally and on paper

Target field for the outcomes of students research: prisoners in the prisons of Nieuwegein and Nieuwersluis. 
Group size: Around 15 students


  • To enable students in the last phase of the bachelor programme and the master criminal law to gain experience in legal practice.
  • To train their skills with respect to offering legal advice, orally and on paper

Students ec’s for this assignment

On a voluntary basis, students do not receive any ECTs for their work. 

Teacher effort (hours)

5-10 hours per month to coordinate the clinic. 

Final product

Advice on different legal matters, advice is given both orally and on paper.

Assessment criteria

There is no assessment. 

Description of the example

In a weekly consultation hour, two students visit detainees to help to answer legal questions of all kinds. Questions on their house and rent, their jobs, custody over children, the regime in a prison, questions about legal proceedings, it can be anything. The lawyers of the prisoners focus on the case for which they are detained, the students can help with other questions. A self-refreshing pool of about 15 law students at Utrecht University keeps this Legal Aid Service going since 2002, supported by two teachers of the Law School, Pauline Jacobs and Ruben Aksay, supported by a student-assistent: Benjamin Mol. The teachers co-read the questions and the answers that the students personally return (in letters) to the prisoners. The students, however, do most of the work independently. 

In the absence of other facilities for detainees to collect legal advise on a whole range of issues, this program allows students to train their skills – research, giving an presenting advice – as well as prisoners to receive invaluable legal advice on a whole range of issues. The project has fully proved its value by continuing to operate in times of budgetary cuts to basic forms of legal aid. There is a clear connection to the academic program; students are able to put their newly acquired knowledge into practice right away. Students that have been involved acknowledge that is has helped them to grow, both academically and personally. 

More information / Contact

Mr.dr. Pauline Jacobs, coodinator of the project (, 030-2537593.

Website (in Dutch):