Georgia Justice Project (GJP) seeks applications from third-year law students or recent law school graduates for sponsorship of a Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or other public-interest fellowship set to begin in the fall of 2020.
Georgia Justice Project (GJP) is a non-profit, public interest law office that serves people who are indigent and currently or previously involved in the criminal legal system. One way we do that is by providing vigorous legal representation combined with holistic social service support to clients facing criminal charges in metro Atlanta. Also, through our reentry lawyering programs we assist clients around the state with expunging and correcting their criminal history, modifying child support orders, overcoming housing discrimination, and dealing with other collateral consequences of a record. GJP also actively engages in statewide policy and legislative advocacy in an effort to lower barriers for people with criminal records on a systemic level. GJP has been heavily involved in significant legislative changes over the last seven years, and is considered the state expert on legal barriers to reentry.
We are seeking highly motivated applicants who can help design and implement a project under the direction of our Legal Director, which will significantly impact our program work and clients. Because the goal of the fellowship is to create a sustainable project, we have identified the following areas of need that fit with our strategic plan for growth, and urge applicants to identify which area or areas best fits their interests and skillset. The applicant and GJP will develop the specifics of the project together through the application process.
- Probation Advocacy/Access to Voting – Georgia currently has a higher percentage of people on probation than any state and sentences individuals to far longer terms of probation than all other states. The high rate of correctional control negatively impacts civic participation because people currently serving felony sentences cannot vote in Georgia. There is a need to push for legislative and administrative changes and advocate for those serving excessive and unnecessary probation sentences.
- Occupational Licensing Advocacy – In 2016 GJP successfully advocated for occupational licensing reform in Georgia. The law that passed applies “Ban-the-Box” principles to how applicants who have a criminal record are considered for a state license. Licensing boards are now required to consider a conviction’s relevance to the license sought, the time elapsed since the conviction, and the nature of the conviction, among other factors. Implementation of the new law has been uneven among Georgia’s many licensing agencies, resulting in the need for further clarification and potential expansion of the law, as well as representation for individuals denied an occupational license based on their record.
- Driver’s License Reform – People leaving prison face numerous barriers to successful reentry, including suspension of driver’s licenses based on missed court dates, inability to pay fines and fees, and child support arrears. The problem is also widespread in Georgia where almost half of the returning citizens at the Metro Reentry Facility, a new prison in Atlanta where Georgia Justice Project provides legal representation to individuals facing barriers to release and successful reentry, have suspended licenses. Many cannot afford to reinstate their license and therefore just keep driving, increasing their likelihood of future incarceration. Several states have recognized that license suspension schemes are discriminatory and have adopted laws prohibiting suspension based on failure to pay fines and fees.
- Mental Health – In Georgia, as in other states, there are a disproportionate number of people who are represented in the criminal justice system who have a mental illness. Jails and prisons in Georgia are the largest providers of mental health services, in spite of the fact that they are ill-equipped to do so. Some small steps have been taken in Georgia to begin to address this issue, in particular the creation of mental health courts and the recent formation of a Behavior Health Commission by the state legislature, but much work remains to be done to monitor these efforts and address the mental health crisis in Georgia and the intersection with the criminal justice system.
If you are interested in pursuing a fellowship with GJP as your host organization, please email your resume, a 1-2 page cover letter indicating your preferred area(s) of work as listed above or a project that closely aligns with the stated goals, and describing your personal interest in this work and in working at GJP. Also, please include a brief writing sample (or excerpt) of no more than 5-7 pages. Please email these materials (as a single, combined PDF) to Brenda@GJP.org. Please use the subject line “2020 Fellowship Applicant.” Candidates must be sure they will have time to meet with GJP staff (via skype/phone if necessary) and draft the applications from mid-August to mid-September to meet the September deadlines.
GJP will accept applications until July 29th, 2019, but will consider applications as they are received, and may select a candidate and remove the notice prior to that date.
GJP is an equal opportunity employer to all persons regardless of race, sex, color, age, religion, actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic or national origin, or familial status. We especially invite applicants who are themselves formerly-incarcerated or justice-involved, or have family members that are directly impacted by the system.