RSS Feed for this category

The Prisoner's Family Conference

The United States is infamous for its burgeoning prisons. Are we doing something wrong? What does this mean for our families? Our communities? • Over 2.5 million of our children have parents in prison • Almost all of them live in poverty • As many as 70% of them will become prisoners themselves These children and their families live among us as a "hidden population," suffering in silence as they sit invisibly right next to us in our schools and places of work and worship. The Prisoner’s Family Conference offers a distinct opportunity to develop awareness and increase understanding of the uniquely disturbing circumstances and crucial needs of The Prisoner’s Family. It is the purpose of The Prisoner’s Family Conference to provide insight and initiate action that will elevate The Prisoner’s Family to integral, valuable and valued membership in the mainstream community. The Prisoner's Family Conference is vital to all who wish to join the effort to curb these tragic statistics. The conference is relevant for all who work with and serve children and families, as well as those in professions addressing issues affecting the prisoner’s family: • Addictions Professionals • Attorneys • Clergy/Chaplains • Educators • Government Officials • Jail & Prison Officials • Judges • Mental Health Professionals • Ministry Workers • Social Service Providers • Volunteers serving children & families • Youth Workers & • All Who Care to Learn and Wish to DO More For further information, please see or contact: Community SOLUTIONS of El Paso at or 915-861-7733.
Thu, 02/26/2009 - 8:00am - Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:30pm
1770 Airway Blvd.
El Paso, TX 79925
United States

The Plight of Women in the Penal System featuring Silja J.A. Talvi

The number of women in U.S. prisons has increased 757% in the last 30 years — and the prison system does not have proper services to deal with the population. Talvi, author of Women Behind Bars: the Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System, will illuminate the system’s inability to deal with these issues. Free of charge. Full of substance. For more information call (505) 473-6282 or visit Sponsored by the College of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Reporter.
Fri, 12/05/2008 - 7:00pm
1600 St. Michael’s Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505
United States

Europe: British Public Opinion Headed in Wrong Direction on Drug Policy, Poll Finds

If a comprehensive poll released last weekend is accurate -- and there is no reason to think it isn't -- British public opinion on drug policy is headed in the wrong direction. The poll conducted by ICM Research for the Observer and the Guardian newspapers found that public attitudes toward drug use, drug users, and drug sellers had grown decidedly more hard-line in recent years.

According to the poll, the proportion of people who think drug laws are "too liberal" has increased from 25% in 2002 to 32% now. At the same time, the number of people who think the drug laws are "not liberal enough" has dropped from 30% to 18%, and support for decriminalizing soft drugs has declined from 38% to 27%.

Respondents showed little sympathy for people who distribute drugs, whether they be professional drug dealers or merely sharing them with friends. About 70% said that all dealers should be treated the same -- with prison sentences. And 63% said drug addicts should be imprisoned.

Somewhat paradoxically, there is strong, though not majority, support for decriminalizing drug possession (38%) and making drugs available to addicts by prescription (44%).

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the newspapers hardening public attitudes were driven in part by concerns about stronger strains of cannabis. Both the Labor government and the British tabloid media have been engaged in a sometimes hysterical campaign to whip up fears about "skunk" in particular, as if that specific high-potency strain were somehow different from "regular" marijuana.

"This is a very important determinant of our decision to reclassify [cannabis from a Class C to a Class B drug]. This is a different drug even to that which was reclassified from B down to C [in 2003]," she claimed. "People are now beginning to recognize this isn't just some kind of harmless thing, but can have a serious impact on young people's mental health." People also realized marijuana production involved organized crime, she added.

But Martin Smith, the director of Drugscope, told newspapers the media and the government had falsely portrayed the drug problem as worse than it really was. "Although overall illegal drug use has been falling and significant progress has been made in tackling drug-related crime, many people believe the problem at best is getting no better," he said.

Prisons Foundation: Dennis Sobin's "Letter From Jail #1"

Dennis Sobin's "Letter from Jail #1" November 2008 Dear Friends, Well, here I am back in jail. Again put here by my adult lawyer son and sister in an effort to silence me. The discord between us began in 2001 when my mother died. She was to leave a substantial part of her large fortune to the Prisons Foundation, a non-profit arts advocacy group which I had recently co-founded. The arraignment was to be handled by my attorney son with my sister's involvement and cooperation. A substantial share was also to go to each of them.In the end they got greedy and wanted it all; so they cut me and Prisons Foundation out. Over the years I have tried to find answers as to how such a thing could happen. My mother and I were close. She, a retired union organizer and former public school principal, was very supportive of the then infant Prisons Foundation. My son and sister reacted to my inquiries about the inheritance by getting repeated stay-away orders against me. This is the third time I've been charged with violating them. Previous stays in jail for such violations ranged from ten days to three months. This time the sentence has been harsher due to the influence and contacts my son and sister have. Due to their money and ambition, they have both risen to positions of power over the years. My sister Judy Sobin is a regional director of the United Way in Salt Lake City. My son Dennis Sobin is a D.C. assistant Attorney General working at City Hall here in Washington. The previous violation that my son had me prosecuted and jailed for was my attempt to resolve our differences by talking to his attorney. My sister put me in the slammer when I sent her an email on her birthday; sincerely wishing her happy returns and expressing hope that we could settle our "misunderstandings." I had forgotten that in Utah a stay-away order last three years, not one year as in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, my son has his stay-away order against me renewed year after year. This year he really lowered the boom when he learned that I was to testify at City Hall on behalf of the Prisons Foundation. He charged me with three violations for going or attempting to go to City Hall to give such testimony. That's why I am in jail now. The judge agreed with my son that the stay-away order called for me to keep away from his "place of work," and that City Hall was just that. My fine lawyer James Butler's impassioned argument that Darrin's "place of work" was in fact an office in City Hall that I had scrupulously avoided, that I came and left without incident, and that I never saw my son or attempted to see him, fell on unresponsive ears. The verdict of guilty on two counts hit me so badly both as a father and as a citizen that I collapsed, falling onto the defense table, and then taken to jail in an ambulance with a stop along the way at an area hospital that tested me and diagnosed me as having an anxiety attack. When I told my doctor and my nurses what had happened, they nearly fainted too. Now I'm sitting on a bunk in my jail cell, wearing my orange jumpsuit and writing several "Sobin's Letter's from the Jail" communiqués. I was sentenced to six months in jail, a half year. Given my son and sister's influence, coupled with their strong motivation to bury me even before my death, I expected it to be more severe. I will use my time to read and write books and work on my music. Of the two books I intend to write, one will be called Mentoring to Artists in Prison. It will be used in workshops to train mentors for imprisoned artists conducted by the Prisons Foundation (a program supported by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanity). If you care to help me I can use some blank paper. Please send me some loose sheets (up to 50) and I'll share any excess with other inmates (my roommate Michael is 18 and likes to write too). Also, I would appreciate a book or two. Any books sent to this institution must be paperback and sent directly by a bookseller (like My favorite reading is American history, novelized or not, and music; particularly biographies of composers and songwriters, sheet music and song collections. I also ask that you support the Prison Art Gallery located at 1600 K Street NW, Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20006. Telephone: 202-393-1511. It's currently being most ably run by Donovan Berry, Kevin Horrocks, Anita Winston and Jahi Foster-Bey. Except for Anita, the entire staff has all been to prison, and Anita is on her way there (to visit her son). Thank you deeply for your support. Yours for Justice, Dennis Sobin #206757 Central Detention Facility 1901 D Street S.E. Washington, D.C. 20003 *Note the views in this letter are those of the author alone. Please send your comments directly to him.
Washington, DC
United States

Feature: Looking Forward -- The Prospects for Drug Reform in Obama's Washington

The political landscape in Washington, DC, is undergoing a dramatic shift as the Democratic tide rolls in, and, after eight years of drug war status quo under the Republicans, drug reformers are now hoping the change in administrations will lead to positive changes in federal drug policies. As with every other aspect of federal policy, groups interested in criminal justice and drug policy reform are coming out of the woodwork with their own recommendations for Obama and the Democratic Congress. This week, we will look at some of those proposals and attempt to assess the prospects for real change.
The White House
One of the most comprehensive criminal justice reform proposals, of which drug-related reform is only a small part, comes from a nonpartisan consortium of organizations and individuals coordinated by the Constitution Project, including groups such as the Sentencing Project, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and the Open Society Policy Center. The set of proposals, Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress, includes the following recommendations:

  • Mandatory Minimum Reforms:
    Eliminate the crack cocaine sentencing disparity
    Improve and expand the federal "safety valve"
    Create a sunset provision on existing and new mandatory minimums
    Clarify that the 924(c) recidivism provisions apply only to true repeat offenders
  • Alternatives to Incarceration:
    Expand alternatives to incarceration in federal sentencing guidelines
    Enact a deferred adjudication statute
    Support alternatives to incarceration through expansion of federal drug and other problem solving courts.
  • Incentives and Sentencing Management
    Expand the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP)
    Clarify good time credit
    Expand the amount of good time conduct credit prisoners may receive and ways they can receive it
    Enhance sentence reductions for extraordinary and compelling circumstances
    Expand elderly prisoners release program
    Revive executive clemency
  • Promoting Fairness and Addressing Disparity:
    Support racial impact statements as a means of reducing unwarranted sentencing disparities
    Support analysis of racial and ethnic disparity in the federal justice system
    Add a federal public defender as an ex officio member of the United States Sentencing Commission

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also issued a set of recommendations, Actions for Restoring America: How to Begin Repairing the Damage to Freedom in America Under Bush, which include some drug reform provisions:

  • Crack/Powder Sentencing: The attorney general should revise the US Attorneys' Manual to require that crack offenses are charged as "cocaine" and not "cocaine base," effectively resulting in elimination of the disparity.
  • Medical Marijuana: Halt the use of Justice Department funds to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana users in states with current laws permitting access to physician-supervised medical marijuana. In particular, the US Attorney general should update the US Attorneys' Manual to de-prioritize the arrest and prosecution of medical marijuana users in medical marijuana states. There is currently no regulation in place to be amended or repealed; there is, of course, a federal statutory scheme that prohibits marijuana use unless pursuant to approved research. But US Attorneys have broad charging discretion in determining what types of cases to prosecute, and with drugs, what threshold amounts that will trigger prosecution. The US Attorneys' Manual contains guidelines promulgated by the Attorney general and followed by US Attorneys and their assistants.
  • The DEA Administrator should grant Lyle Craker's application for a Schedule I license to produce research-grade medical marijuana for use in DEA- and FDA-approved studies. This would only require DEA to approve the current recommendation of its own Administrative Law Judge.
  • All relevant agencies should stop denying the existence of medical uses of marijuana -- as nearly one-third of states have done by enacting laws -- and therefore, under existing legal criteria, reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule V.
  • Issue an executive order stating that, "No veteran shall be denied care solely on the basis of using marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with state law." Although there are many known instances of veterans being denied care as a result of medical marijuana use, we have not been able to identify a specific regulation that mandates or authorizes this policy.
  • Federal Racial Profiling: Issue an executive order prohibiting racial profiling by federal officers and banning law enforcement practices that disproportionately target people for investigation and enforcement based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex or religion. Include in the order a mandate that federal agencies collect data on hit rates for stops and searches, and that such data be disaggregated by group. DOJ should issue guidelines regarding the use of race by federal law enforcement agencies. The new guidelines should clarify that federal law enforcement officials may not use race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or sex to any degree, except that officers may rely on these factors in a specific suspect description as they would any noticeable characteristic of a subject.

Looking to the south, the Latin America Working Group, a coalition of nonprofit groups, has issued a petition urging Obama "to build a just policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean that unites us with our neighbors." Included in its proposals are:

  • Actively work for peace in Colombia. In a war that threatens to go on indefinitely, the immense suffering of the civilian population demands that the United States takes risks to achieve peace. If the United States is to actively support peace, it must stop endlessly bankrolling war and help bring an end to the hemisphere's worst humanitarian crisis.
  • Get serious -- and smart -- about drug policy. Our current drug policy isn't only expensive and ineffective, it's also inhumane. Instead of continuing a failed approach that brings soldiers into Latin America's streets and fields, we must invest in alternative development projects in the Andes and drug treatment and prevention here at home.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has some suggestions as well. As NORML's Paul Armentano wrote last week on Alternet:

  • President Obama must uphold his campaign promise to cease the federal arrest and prosecution of (state) law-abiding medical cannabis patients and dispensaries by appointing leaders at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Department of Justice, and the US Attorney General's office who will respect the will of the voters in the thirteen states that have legalized the physician-supervised use of medicinal marijuana.
  • President Obama should use the power of the bully pulpit to reframe the drug policy debate from one of criminal policy to one of public health. Obama can stimulate this change by appointing directors to the Office of National Drug Control Policy who possess professional backgrounds in public health, addiction, and treatment rather than in law enforcement.
  • President Obama should follow up on statements he made earlier in his career in favor of marijuana decriminalization by establishing a bi-partisan presidential commission to review the budgetary, social, and health costs associated with federal marijuana prohibition, and to make progressive recommendations for future policy changes.

Clearly, the drug reform community and its allies see the change of administrations as an opportunity to advance the cause. The question is how receptive will the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress be to drug reform efforts.

"We've examined Obama's record and his statements, and 90% of it is good," said David Borden, executive director of (publisher of this newsletter). "But we don't know what he intends to do in office. There is an enormous amount of good he can do," Borden said, mentioning opening up funding for needle exchange programs, US Attorney appointments, and stopping DEA raids on medical marijuana providers. "Will Obama make some attempt to actualize the progressive drug reform positions he has taken? He has a lot on his plate, and drug policy reform has tended to be the first thing dropped by left-leaning politicians."

There will be some early indicators of administration interest in drug reform, said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We will be watching to see if he issues an executive order stopping the DEA raids; that would be a huge sign," he said. "He could also repeal the needle exchange funding ban. The congressional ban would still be in place, but that would show some great leadership. If they started taking on drug policy issues in the first 100 days, that would be a great sign, but I don't think people should expect that. There are many other issues, and it's going to take awhile just to clean up Bush's mess. I'm optimistic, but I don't expect big changes to come quickly."

"We are hoping to see a new direction," said Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst for civil and criminal justice reform for the Open Society Policy Center. "We couldn't have a better scenario with the incoming vice president having sponsored the one-to-one crack/powder bill in the Senate and the incoming president being a sponsor. And we have a situation in Congress, and particularly in the Senate, where there is bipartisan interest in sentencing reform. Both sides of the aisle want some sort of movement on this, it's been studied and vetted, and now Congress needs to do the right thing. It's time to get smart on crime, and this is not a radical agenda. As far as I'm concerned, fixing the crack/powder disparity is the compromise, and elimination of mandatory minimums is what really needs to be on the agenda."

"With the Smart on Crime proposals, we tried to focus on what was feasible," said the Sentencing Project's Kara Gotsch. "These are items where we think we are likely to get support, where the community has demonstrated support, or where there has been legislation proposed to deal with these issues. It prioritizes the issues we think are most likely to move, and crack sentencing reform is on that list."

The marijuana reform groups are more narrowly focused, of course, but they, too are looking for positive change. "Obama has made it very clear on the campaign trail that he disagrees with the use of federal agencies to undo medical marijuana laws in states that have passed them," said Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "He has vowed to stop that. Obama seems to be someone who values facts and reasoned decision-making. If he applies that to marijuana policy, that could be a good thing".

While the list of possible drug reforms is long and varied, it is also notable for what has not been included. Only NORML even mentions marijuana decriminalization, and no one is talking about ending the drug war -- only making it a bit kinder and gentler. The L-word remains unutterable.

"While we're optimistic about reducing the harms of prohibition, legalization is not something that I think they will take on," said Piper. "But any movement toward drug reform is good. If we can begin to shift to a more health-oriented approach, that will change how Americans think about this issue and create a space where regulation can be discussed in a a rational manner. Now, because of our moralist criminal justice framework, it is difficult to have a sane discussion about legalization."

"We didn't talk that much about legalization," said Gotsch in reference to the Smart on Crime proposals. "A lot of organizations involved have more ambitious goals, but that wouldn't get the kind of reaction we want. There just isn't the political support yet for legalization, even of marijuana."

"We should be talking about legalization, yes," said's Borden, "but should we be talking about it in communications to the new president who has shown no sign of supporting it? Not necessarily. We must push the envelope, but if we push it too far in lobbying communications to national leadership, we risk losing their attention."

"I do think it would be a mistake to blend that kind of caution into ideological caution over what we are willing to talk about at all," Borden continued. "I think we should be talking about legalization, it's just a question of when and where," he argued.

Talking legalization is premature, said Eric Sterling, formerly counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee and now president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. "What we are not yet doing as a movement is building upon our successes," he said. "We just saw medical marijuana win overwhelmingly in Michigan and decriminalization in Massachusetts, but the nation's commentariat has not picked up on it, and our movement has not been sufficiently aggressive in getting those votes translated into the political discourse. We haven't broken out of the making fun phase of marijuana policy yet."

Sterling pointed in particular to the medical marijuana issue. "Everyone recognizes that the state-federal conflict on medical marijuana is a major impediment, and we have 26 senators representing medical marijuana states, but not a single senator has introduced a medical marijuana bill," he said. "It's an obvious area for legislative activity in the Senate, but it hasn't happened. This suggests that we as a movement still lack the political muscle even on something as uncontroversial as the medical use of marijuana."

Even the apparent obvious targets for reform, such as the crack/powder sentencing disparity, are going to require a lot of work, said Sterling. "It will continue to be a struggle," he said. "The best crack bill was Biden's, cosponsored by Obama and Clinton, but I'm not sure who is going to pick that up this year. The sentencing reform community continues to struggle to frame the issue as effective law enforcement, and I think it's only on those terms that we can win."

Reformers also face the reality that the politics of crime continues to be a sensitive issue for the majority Democrats, Sterling said. "Crime is an issue members are frightened about, and it's an area where Republicans traditionally feel they have the upper ground. The Democrats are going to be reluctant to open themselves up to attack in areas where there is not a strong political upside. On many issues, Congress acts when there is a clear universe of allies who will benefit and who are pushing for action. I don't know if we are there yet."

Change is the mantra of the Obama administration, and change is what the drug reform community is hoping for. Now, the community must act to ensure that change happens, and that the right changes happen.

Free Seminar to Become a Mentor to Prison Artists

Thanks to a grant we received from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Prisons Foundation throughout the year has been conducting free all-day workshops for individuals who wish to become a mentor to imprisoned artists. We are now having our last workshop--a wrap up one that's just half a day long--and invite all to attend, whether or not you have been to a previous workshop. This summary workshop will feature the highlights of previous workshops. The workshop is free and refreshments will be served. It is ideal for anyone who attended any of the previous workshops as well as for new participants who seek to work either as a volunteer or paid staff member in a jail or prison. Attend this free workshop on Saturday, September 27, 1 to 5 pm. You'll learn what it takes to work in a jail or prison to foster artistic development among inmates. You'll receive this valuable training from experienced correctional officials (from both public and private jails) who have made presentations at our previous seminars. The highlights of their presentations will be show on video. You will also benefit from the insights and knowledge of ex-prisoner artists who will serve as workshop leaders. These knowledgeable people will share their experiences with you in a relaxed and fun setting at the Prison Art Gallery in downtown Washington, DC. This is a rare opportunity to make contacts and obtain valuable information. You can be part of it all. Whether you're looking for a one afternoon per month volunteer opportunity or a full-time paid career position, you will find this workshop very worthwhile. Please call us at 202-393-1511 or email to reserve your spot or for more information. Thank you.
Sat, 09/27/2008 - 1:00pm - 5:00pm
1600 K St. NW, Suite 501
Washington, DC
United States

Justice Policy Institute Press Release: Violent crime fell in 2007; Areas with lower incarceration rates experienced greater crime reductions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 15, 2008 Contact: LaWanda Johnson, (202) 558-7974x308; cell:(202) 320-1029 Violent Crime Fell in 2007; Areas with lower incarceration rates experienced greater crime reductions WASHINGTON, D.C.--Violent crime in the United States fell by 1.4 percent in 2007, according to an analysis released today by the Justice Policy Institute. The analysis, which is based on findings in the 2007 FBI Uniform Crime Report released today, finds that the drop in crime came at a time when the prison and jail growth rates fell from previous years. The analysis concluded that regions with the lowest incarceration rates also experienced the largest drops in violent crime. The number of violent and property crimes fell in three of the four regions of the country. The northeast region experienced the greatest drop in violent crime, and also has the lowest incarceration rates in the country. The southern region has the highest incarceration rates and witnessed a rise in violent crimes--the only part of the country to not experience a drop in crime. Furthermore, as the growth rates of prisons and jails fell, the violent crime rate fell as well, possibly indicating that lowering the number of people imprisoned can be an effective way to increase public safety. "The data clearly demonstrates that the use of incarceration as a means of increasing public safety is a failed public policy," said Sheila Bedi, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. "This data underscores that investments in education, employment and housing are what make communities safer." The Uniform Crime Report also reinforces statistics around youth crime and suggests that punitive practices aimed at youth should be abandoned for more effective alternatives. According the UCR, adults are responsible for the majority of violent offenses, representing 84 percent of all violent crime arrests. For a more in-depth analysis of crime trends, and information on effective public safety practices, please visit our website at

Presentation: Incarcerated Women -- Conditions, Profiteering and Resistance

Featuring journalist and author of "Women Behind Bars" Silja Talvi, founding editor of "Prison Legal News" Paul Wright, former drug war prisoner Yraida Guanipa, and Books Through Bars co-founder and author of the forthcoming "Resistance Behind Bars" Vikki Law. For more info, contact 212-777-6028
Wed, 09/17/2008 - 7:00pm
172 Allen Street
New York, NY
United States

Prisons Foundation: Kennedy Center Show Preview Fundraiser

Join us for a pre-Kennedy Center Show Preview at the Prison Art Gallery in Washington, DC to benefit the legal defense fund of our director Dennis Sobin (arrested for going to City Hall to speak at a public hearing) and the travel expenses of our curator Anita Winston (who wants to visit her imprisoned son in Florida). The preview of the show is free and includes wine and refreshments. Contributions to help meet Anita's traveling expenses (her son is a DC prisoner who was shipped out-of-state) and Dennis's legal expenses (his new lawyer James Butler is prominent, thorough and effective) will be welcomed. Meet the actors, actresses, and playwrights who will appear at the "From Prison to the Stage" show at the Kennedy Center, and enjoy live music by the ex-prisoner musicians who will perform. For further information, call 202-393-1511.
Fri, 08/15/2008 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
1600 K St NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

Job Opportunity: Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute, DC

The Justice Policy Institute is a Washington, DC-based research, policy and communications advocacy organization whose mission is to end society's reliance on incarceration, and to promote effective solutions to social problems. Since 1997, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) has worked to enhance the public dialog on incarceration through accessible research, public education, and communications advocacy. Policymakers, the media, advocates, people who work in the juvenile and criminal justice system and the general public rely on JPI's timely analysis to help implement policies to reduce the use of incarceration, and promote effective public safety strategies. JPI's research is frequently cited by policy makers and in America's leading print and electronic media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. JPI has published over 100 pieces of research, including reports, monographs, articles, fact sheets, and other materials used to promote policy reform. By providing communications and research technical assistance to national and state-based reform initiatives, including foundation-led efforts, JPI has played a significant role in helping America turn the tide against runaway prison expansion.

JPI is engaged in work to support the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice, the Partnership for Treatment, Not Incarceration in Maryland, and other juvenile and criminal justice projects that seek to reduce the use of incarceration. In the past decade, JPI has worked closely on projects with the Center for Child Law and Policy, the Youth Law Center, the National Juvenile Justice Network, the Drug Policy Alliance, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Campaign for Youth Justice, Critical Resistance and various governmental and non-profit agencies.

In the last decade, JPI's research and communication strategies have been used to help prevent federal laws to try more young people as adults from being enacted, and worked with national and state-based campaigns to repeal these laws; prevent a number of initiatives to lengthen prison sentences or tougher juvenile justice measures from being enacted at the local, state and federal level; pass legislation to divert drug involved individuals from prison to drug treatment programs in Maryland and California; develop a constituency to help enact the Prison Rape Elimination Act; reshape public opinion to where reform of California's "Three Strikes Laws," and reforms to Maryland's drug sentencing statutes are now being considered; elevate the importance of, and promoted effective strategies to reduce the number of young people in pre-trial juvenile detention, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice system.

JPI's budget is roughly $750,000 annually and it is supported by grants from several national foundations. JPI currently has a staff of six, with a cadre of long-time professional consultants who work with the staff to achieve the mission through research and communication work. JPI's office, staff and Board are based in Washington, DC. JPI is poised to grow, and increase its influence and policy impact.

JPI is seeking a dedicated and experienced leader to move the organization forward. The executive director must be committed to and respect JPI's historic mission, and understand the organization's place within the larger field working for more sensible sentencing and correctional policies, and juvenile justice reform. The executive director must have a background in juvenile and criminal justice research, understand and have implemented research and communications strategies to achieve policy reform goals, and know how to harness both research and communications strategies to support policy reform. While the organization is seeking someone with strong leadership qualities, the organization's key strength is that it works collaboratively with other organizations and initiatives, and harnesses our core skill sets to support other organizations through research and communication work.

Specific responsibilities of the Executive Director include direct supervision of all staff and consultants to complete products to support five major projects that cross the domains of juvenile and criminal justice reform; ensuring that research projects reflect the JPI brand type, quality, and design to maximize their policy impact; ensuring that well-planned and strategic communication techniques are employed to maximize JPI's policy impact; serving as "editor-in-chief" on JPI written materials; serving as primary spokesperson for JPI; maintaining ongoing relationships with press; working with project staff and consultants to conduct other public relation activities on JPI projects; soliciting grants and maintaining ongoing relationships with funders; ensuring sufficient funding for organizational projects and operations; overseeing, managing and maintaining the budget; being responsible for organizational assets, expenditures, salaries, benefits, and overseeing annual reports and accounting reviews; engaging in semi-annual fundraising drives and solicitations; recruiting and hiring; establishing training, supervision, management and staff evaluations; identifying opportunities for staff professional development; completing reports for, and communicating with, the Board of Directors; recruiting new board members; engaging in organizational development activities to enhance the quality and impact of JPI's work; developing policy positions that help advance the work of reducing society's reliance on incarceration; and conducting research and developing communications and advocacy strategies to achieve those goals.

Qualifications include having experience managing within or directing a nonprofit organization, government agency or equivalent academic center or program (experience with personnel management is particularly desirable); good strategic thinking and understanding how to craft and move a policy reform agenda; creativity; being a team player; possessing the skills to work with government, allied organizations, organizers and advocates; and being able to find the balance between advocating for change when required and managing projects that work to use research and communications to build a consensus for change with policymakers and key stakeholders; having experience with juvenile and criminal justice issues. Having experience working in a national organization that engages in research, communication or advocacy on a national level is also a plus. Fundraising experience is highly desirable.

People of color and individuals with direct experience with the criminal justice system are strongly encouraged to apply. The Justice Policy Institute is an equal opportunity employer.

Salary is commensurate with experience, generous benefits included.

To apply, please e-mail your resume and cover letter to Tara Andrews, JPI Board of Directors at

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School