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 2021.
GJP is a non-profit, public interest law office that represents people currently or formerly involved in the criminal justice system. For 34 years, GJP has provided vigorous legal representation combined with holistic social service support to clients who are indigent and facing criminal charges in Metro Atlanta. For the last 15 years, GJP has also assisted clients around the state with expunging and correcting their criminal history and dealing with the 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 accepts applications for projects that are in line with our strategic growth plan because we want to sustain the project beyond the end of the fellowship. We are seeking applicants to help design and implement a project, which will significantly impact our program work and clients. We have identified three areas of growth, and ask applicants to identify which area best fits their interests and skillset:
- Restorative Justice in Georgia:
Restorative Justice (RJ) at its core is an approach to harm, an approach to crime, which seeks healing as its goal – instead of focusing on punitive consequences. RJ is a tool that can invest power and control over criminal justice outcomes with the victims and the community, reduce recidivism and thus make communities safer, and stem the tide of mass incarceration and the racially disparate outcomes that flow therefrom. RJ can be utilized at every stage of the criminal legal process. It can create alternatives to arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration. Done correctly, RJ seeks to make the victim whole and disrupts the usual machinations of the criminal legal system by placing the community and victims at the heart of the process versus the state (i.e. police, prosecutors, correctional officers, etc.).
GJP has used RJ methodologies in approaching individual client cases. GJP seeks to convert our experience into systemic alternatives for thousands facing arrest and prosecution. This project would focus on developing pre-arrest or pre-conviction restorative justice processes and mechanisms on the local, county and state level. A primary goal would be to enlist a local jurisdiction to utilize RJ and then ensure such alternatives are deployed. This work would include studies of impact and efficacy that the Fellow would undertake to show that RJ alternatives are politically viable via proof-of-concept papers.
- Driver’s License Advocacy:
Driver’s licenses are vital for people to secure employment, access food and healthcare, and take care of their families. For people coming out of prison, the ability to legally drive is especially important in ensuring successful reentry. Yet license suspension laws disproportionately impact poor people and people of color. Without the ability to pay fines and fees in order to reinstate licenses, poor people continue driving out of necessity and risk criminal conviction, further fines and fees, and incarceration.
We are envisioning a project that would combine direct services, coalition building, and policy initiatives for driver’s license reform related to fines and fees for license suspension. The Fellow would develop a caseload of clients to learn about how the legal system handles fines and fees for traffic cases, with the goal of having courts make a determination of the client’s ability to pay when ordering fines associated with traffic offenses. They would create a coalition of stakeholders interested in reforming Georgia’s license laws. Their policy advocacy would focus on legislative reform to ensure that no one’s license can be suspended simply because of their inability to pay fines and fees.
- Metro Reentry Facility Project:
GJP has partnered with the Metro Reentry Facility (“MRF”), a transitional state prison in Atlanta for individuals scheduled for release within 18 months, since its opening in May 2018. MRF takes an innovative approach to re-entry. “Returning citizens” receive intensive counseling, vocational training and housing support so when they leave MRF, they will leave with two things: a job and a home. GJP’s work with the clients at MRF has focused on removing any legal barriers to re-entry.
This project would draw upon GJP’s three years of direct service work at MRF to push for policy reform. The Fellow would continue GJP’s work of resolving driver’s license suspensions and probation violations, and child support advocacy. The goal would be to use these experiences providing direct services and client stories to advocate for policy reform in those areas of direct service.
If you are interested in pursuing a fellowship with GJP as your host, please email your resume, personal statement of interest (including your preferred area of work), and a list of three references (combined as a single PDF) to Uyen@GJP.org. Please use the subject line “Fellowship Applicant.” Applications will be accepted until August 17th, 2020 but reviewed as they are submitted.
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 welcome applicants who are formerly-incarcerated or justice-involved.