Shelia Balkan, PH.D. ,

Criminologist and Court Consultant

Community Service

Dr. Balkan is especially adept at designing community service projects for clients. With her contacts and prior record of successful placements, she has been able to identify needs in the community and creates volunteer positions that utilize clients' expertise and abilities:

  • Three entrepreneurs in the food industry, charged with bribery, donated hundreds of hours of labor and food products to helping the City's youth and gang reduction program.
  • The bookkeeping for a homeless shelter was taken over by an accountant charged with fraud.
  • Inner-city youth learned how to paint out graffiti on neighborhood homes from a painting contractor charged in conspiracy.
  • An anti-drug billboard campaign using celebrity messages was sponsored by the president of an advertising agency who was awaiting sentencing.
  • Food for the homeless was provided by a securities broker who was charged with fraud.
  • A businessman charged with money laundering served his sentence in South Central Los Angeles mentoring school children.

Community service provides clients with a way to pay a social debt, become accountable and accept the consequences of their actions. It also has the benefit of restoring a person’s reputation, overcoming shame and demonstrating to judges and prosecutors that a defendant accepts responsibility and wants to make amends in a meaningful way.

Alternative sentencing plans have contained components such as innovative community service projects, including a nationwide anti-drug advertising campaign in conjunction with the entertainment industry, a domestic violence video that won the 1998 Telly Award for best Public Service Announcement, a weekly food distribution program to help feed the homeless that was given a Presidential Commendation, and the installation of a state-of-the art music studio in an inner city school for at-risk youth.

"Sheila has put her considerable skill and creativity to work for the Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC), supporting our efforts to help low-income people stabilize their lives through affordable housing and comprehensive skills training. Her clients have assisted us with the nuts and bolts of housing development, creating festive holiday celebrations for our tenants and their children, painting apartment buildings inside and out, and sharing experiences with tenants who are struggling with addiction. She has also been responsible for securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in resources for VCHC."

Steve Clare
Executive Director
Venice Community Housing Corporation

"Sheila Balkan over the years has been a remarkably effective matchmaker between the needs of her clients and volunteer opportunities at Volunteers of America. The roles her clients have filled at Volunteers of America range from strategic planning, public relations, real estate development, food service, tutoring, mentoring, social entrepreneurism, technical and grant writing, to legal services. Invariably, we hear from her clients that their volunteer work with our organization was not only fulfilling but played a central role in ameliorating the situation they found themselves in vis-a-vis law enforcement and the judicial system. Sheila's expertise has played a key role in promoting the charitable purposes of Volunteers of America while uniquely responding to the individual situations of each of her clients."

Bob Pratt
Volunteers of America - Greater Los Angeles

These projects, and many others like them, have led to significant sentencing reductions and have helped a defendant regain his/her reputation and control of his/her lives.

"Sheila is the best. In a white collar fraud case involving a loss of over $70 million, Dr. Balkan designed a community service project for my client that became an enormous success, winning citations from Presidents Clinton and Bush. Because of Dr. Balkan’s work, my client was given halfway house confinement instead of a long prison sentence so that he could continue his community work--a great result, thanks to Sheila."

Frederick D. Friedman
Jones Day
Los Angeles, CA

"We retained Sheila Balkan to write the Sentencing Memorandum in Tupac Shakur’s most serious felony case in Los Angeles and the judge followed her recommendation to the tee by rejecting the DA’s request for prison time and instead “sentencing” him to perform a concert in which the proceeds would go to an inner-city community center."

Shawn Chapman Holley
Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP
Los Angeles, CA

"Sheila was instrumental in setting up an amazing community service project for one of our clients - a project that I'm convinced helped us get a very good outcome with the United States Attorney's Office."

Peter Shakow
Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg
Los Angeles, CA