Georgia Justice Project (www.GJP.org) 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 2022.
Georgia Justice Project (GJP) is a non-profit, public interest law office that serves people currently or previously involved in the criminal legal system. We do this through a combination of direct and holistic legal representation of clients facing criminal charges or dealing with the collateral consequences of a criminal record, extensive outreach and education, and by engaging in statewide policy and legislative advocacy. On the legislative front we have had two major victories in the last year that expanded expungement (SB 288) and created clear paths for early termination of probation (SB 105). All of our work focuses on our two goals: reducing the number of people under correctional control in Georgia and reducing barriers to reentry. Our work is informed by our 35 years of experience representing individuals and our practical understanding of the systemic forces that utilize the criminal legal system to exclude people of color and poor people from our communities. You can read more about our work and the wide range of services we provide at GJP.org.
We are seeking highly motivated applicants who can help design and implement a project in partnership with our legal team, 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 broad areas of need that fit with our strategic plan for growth, but we are also willing to consider other proposals that support the two goals stated above. The applicant and GJP will develop the specifics of the project together through the application process. We do not expect a fully formed proposal at the time of initial contact.
- De-criminalization of minor offenses
- In Georgia, traffic violations are considered misdemeanor criminal offenses meaning that someone can be arrested, jailed, put on probation and end up with a criminal record for an infraction as minor as failing to signal a turn if they miss a court date
- The same is true for conduct that amounts to a contract dispute – for example, if someone fails to return rental property on time or overdraws their checking account, they often face criminal charges
- As a result, over 4.3 million people in Georgia have a criminal record, limiting their future opportunities
- This project would be heavily focused on policy reform, including limiting arrest powers for minor offenses and contractual disputes
- Engaging employers
- GJP has worked closely with employers in the past to educate them about barriers to reentry and to learn from them what challenges they face with second chance hiring
- Numerous employers have supported our policy efforts, but we are looking to engage them in a more comprehensive way in criminal justice reform
- This Fellow would create materials and trainings geared toward employers to encourage second chance hiring and engage on a deeper level with broader justice reform
- This might be a good fit for a Fellow that has a business background
- GJP has worked to ensure Georgians with a criminal record understand their right to vote and can access that right
- Recently enacted SB 105 will re-enfranchise tens of thousands of people who were previously ineligible to vote for many years due to long probation sentences
- This Fellow would focus on protecting and expanding the right to vote, ensuring that impacted communities are aware of their rights, and correcting misinformation about voting and criminal records
- Criminalization of protest
- Several bills were introduced in the Georgia legislature this year in an attempt to stifle future protests against police brutality, racism, and inequality
- These bills would criminalize several aspects of protest and enhance sentencing requirements for others
- We welcome fellowship proposals that seek to protect and restore the right to protest in Georgia
- Effectiveness of alternates to traditional policing
- A law was passed in Georgia this year that limited the power of local jurisdictions to reduce their police budgets absent legislative approval
- This new law could greatly hamper local efforts to implement alternative solutions such as mental health services that minimize the reach of the criminal justice system
- This Fellow would research similar efforts around the country and look for ways to challenge this new law
- They would also advocate for diversion and services that minimize the number of Georgians under correctional control
- Improving access to justice through technology
- There is a movement around the country to implement “Clean Slate Initiatives” that automatically expunge certain criminal records, requiring no fees or action on the part of the individual who has a record and is eligible
- This greatly increases access to record clearing and reduces barriers to employment, housing and other opportunities
- Georgia faces challenges in implementing automatic expungement because we do not have a unified court record system, but other states are finding creative ways to move this idea forward in the absence of a unified system
- This Fellow would help advocate for a unified system and propose automatic expungement policies that do not require a unified system
- The ideal candidate for this fellowship would be someone with a technology background, particularly in data management
- Metro Reentry Facility
- 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 reentry with intensive counseling, vocational training and housing support so when individuals 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 legal barriers to reentry
- We are seeking a Fellow to assist with replicating this model across the state and help collect data on the efficacy of this alternative model
- Expungement Desks and Summits
- GJP is working in partnership with Cobb County to establish the first expungement desk in the State, which will be located in the courthouse and will provide members of the community a place to seek information, counsel, and record clearing remedies
- GJP also continues to work in partnership with stakeholders throughout the state to bring access to expungement to communities through “Expungement Summits”, events where impacted people can have their records expunged without having to go through the normal administrative or court processes
- We are seeking a Fellow to expand the Desks model, possibly focusing on rural communities, and facilitate Summits by providing a template for local jurisdictions to utilize to increase access to record clearing in their jurisdiction through Summits
- Restorative Justice
- Restorative Justice (RJ) at its core is an approach to harm and to crime which seeks healing as its goal, rather than focusing on punitive consequences, it is a tool that can invest power and control over criminal justice outcomes with the victims and the community, thus reducing recidivism and making communities safer
- 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 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
If you are interested in pursuing a fellowship with GJP as your host organization, please email your resume and a 1-2 page cover letter indicating your preferred area(s) of work as listed above (or describing a project that closely aligns with GJP’s stated goals), 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 Careers@GJP.org. Please use the subject line “2022 Fellowship Applicant.” Candidates must be sure they will have time to meet with GJP staff and draft the applications from mid-August to mid-September to meet the September deadlines.
GJP will accept applications until July 30th, 2021, 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.