BATAVIA, OH (May 15, 2023) — A six-month internship with the Clermont County Public Defender’s Office helped 37-year-old Jill Constable Greene chart a course beyond her wildest dreams.
The experience spurred the recent Cincinnati State Technical and Community College graduate to decide to become an attorney, who helps others with backgrounds similar to hers.
“Interning has opened my heart and mind to my career choice,” Greene wrote in a reflection about the experience. “My true desire in life is to be an attorney. I mean that is really shooting for the moon, yet here I am still.”
Greene’s past includes barely completing ninth grade and having two children at age 19. She went a decade knowing nothing outside of addiction. Her first arrest, a felony possession charge, came in 2010. Child Protective Services took her children.
Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she used her six-month jail sentence as an opportunity to study toward a GED. However, after getting out of jail, her struggles continued, with relapses, criminal charges, and unhealthy relationships.
Finally, in 2015, after serving more time, she entered inpatient treatment, then sober living. She got back a job, which she has held for eight years.
Greene started GED classes at Gateway Community College. She took math classes for six weeks at a time. After the first six weeks, she tested and failed math. She was working six days a week second shift.
“Classes from 8-12 were a nightmare for me,” Greene said. “I failed, enrolled for another six weeks, failed, signed up again, got a tutor, and finally a year later got my GED at 35 years old. It took years for me to get there, but it was possible because I maintained my sobriety with the help of the accountability of drug court.”
In January 2021, she enrolled at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Hondros College of Real Estate, taking online courses from both. She obtained her Peer Recovery Certificate and real estate degree.
Greene was nominated to be the woman’s coordinator for Greater Cincinnati Hospitals and Institutions. She carried her message of hope to facilities such as First Step Home, the Center for Addiction Services, River City, Talbot House, Off the Streets, CASC and jails. She became a licensed realtor and obtained her Chemical Dependency Counsel Assistant Degree, graduating with a 3.3 GPA.
She got married and received custody of her daughters and the rights back to her sons.
Clermont County Public Defender’s Office Social Worker Nicci Warr said Greene wanted experience in the field to break up her class work. “Her professor recommended she reach out to our social work department,” Warr said. “Jill and I discussed the program and if the internship was something she wanted to do.”
Social workers were added to the Public Defender’s Office on March 15, 2022. There are two social workers as of this time. They help the client navigate a very complex criminal justice system. The clients are referred from various sources, mainly the public defender attorneys, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services, treatment programs, sheriffs and others.
“Our social workers refer clients to treatment programs, connect to services, refer for evaluations, secure releases of information; interview the client to gather their social history, reach out to relatives to assist with transportation to court, community service or treatment,” Warr said. “Also, the social work department is developing collaboration with our community partners, for example, Metropolitan Housing or Clermont County Community Services.”
The Public Defender’s Office has had two interns, one from Northern Kentucky University and one from Cincinnati State. They are expecting an intern to start in the fall from the University of Cincinnati. The interns will do their field placement for the entire semester, working 16-20 hours per week.
Interns gain valuable experience first learning the criminal justice process. They observe court proceedings from arraignments, to plea or trial settings and sentencing. They work directly with the client to make referrals to treatment programs and services. They will discuss family dynamics/history and assist in writing a social history. They work in developing a judicial release plan for clients who have requested the assistance of the Public Defender’s Office.
“What impressed me about Jill was her desire to touch the lives of our clients,” Warr said. “Jill was eager to learn the process, set up services, and remove barriers so our clients could experience success. Also, Jill was willing to share her experience with the client and reassure the person if he or she works hard, he or she can overcome his or her trouble.”
Warr believes Greene will positively impact many lives in our county. Clermont County Public Defender’s Office was proud to have her be a part of its team for the semester
“I obtained hope, motivation, and inspiration from so many,” Greene said. “Talk about the beauty in life, the opportunities I have had, the strength and courage. The obstacles, the barriers, and the doubt. I hope that one day this experience for me, changes someone’s life. We are all here to learn, then, we teach.”