The fight for the comprehensive criminal justice reform that our system so desperately needs is an important one. The members of our board are passionate about the work that we are able to do through BARS and don’t stop pursuing criminal justice reform just because school isn’t in session! Many of us had the opportunity to do meaningful work in the field this summer, and so we wanted to share our experiences with you all to make more people aware of the many relevant work opportunities available to anyone passionate about social justice. Feel free to check out where we worked and email us with questions!
Madison Dawkins, Founder & President — Vera Institute of Justice
This summer Madison worked at the Vera Institute in the Center for Youth Justice. The specific project that she worked on aimed to End Girls’ Incarceration, which called for direct abolition of carceral facilities that detain girls under 18. Madison’s involvement with the project included assisting them through the project expansion, they picked partner sites around the country to implement tasks forces to work with state/city officials, COs, DAs to end girls incarceration. This project was multifaceted as it extended beyond the closing of facilities, to include repurposing them into centers of community engagement to provide resources to minimize interactions with the carceral system.
Cary Holley, Publication Team — Brennan Center for Justice
Cary interned in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. She assisted the team with their federal sentencing reform advocacy efforts, which primarily included tracking legislative updates and taking notes in strategy meetings related to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) and the First STEP Act (check out this letter that BCJ sent senators explaining their position on SRCA vs. First STEP). Cary also helped with bail reform efforts by researching existent, relatively successful models and evaluating new legislative proposals. In addition, she researched the criminal justice reform platforms of 2018 midterm candidates and had the opportunity to staff events, such as a Women in Politics event featuring former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.
Jordan Andrews, Communications Director — Only Through Us
This past summer, Jordan worked at Only Through US, a nonprofit initiative in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. that does work at the intersections of national security and civil liberties. She did extended research on the sentencing disparities that exist between perpetrators of ideologically motivated violence. Perpetrators of US-inspired acts of terror are predominately white and on average receive 1/4 of the sentence of perpetrators who are perceived to be Muslim or Arab and are inspired by foreign ideologies. Jordan found that this is due to discrepancies in bureaucratic definitions of terrorism and imprecise language in the US criminal code. In BARS and in mass incarceration discourse in general, we tend not to focus on “terrorists” as victims of the system, but studying the ways in which the nation’s system victimizes violent extremists helped her further understand the extent of the system’s flaws.
Chinaechelum Vincent, Publication Team — Collateral Consequences of Conviction Justice Project
Naeche worked in her hometown of Los Angeles this summer interning at Loyola Law School at a post-conviction legal clinic called the Collateral Consequences of Conviction Justice Project. She worked on expungements, which seal people’s criminal records and better their chances of employment. Naeche went to vocational schools to explain the new laws and to let individuals know whether they met the qualifications for expungement. She also had the opportunity to attend court hearings.