The Open Society Foundations have announced an award of $1.5 million to this year's Soros Justice Fellows, a group of established and emerging leaders working to advance fairness and transparency in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Stipends ranging from $58,700 to $110,250 will be awarded to eighteen investigative journalists, grassroots organizers, policy activists, academics, filmmakers, and lawyers who are tackling issues such as the barriers people face upon leaving prison, harsh treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system, and the effects of incarceration on communities of color. With OSF funding, fellows also will work to advance cutting-edge reform efforts over the next twelve to eighteen months, including a project to trim criminal justice costs in local jurisdictions.
This year's cohort includes Amanda Aronczyk, who is producing a radio documentary and report on the financial barriers people face upon leaving prison and the affects on families and communities; Carlos Garcia, who is working to end the federal government's collaboration with local law enforcement to detain and deport immigrants; Jessica Karp, who is organizing privacy, justice, and immigrants' rights advocates against the federal government's Secure Communities deportation program; James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, who are documenting and reporting on the use and abuse of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and youth facilities; and Dana Wolfe, who is working to promote reasonable and informed dialogue about sex offender management and sexual assault prevention in New York state.
"Our country's rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world, and yet our criminal justice system has failed in every way whether measured by fairness or cost-effectiveness," said Diana Morris, acting executive director of U.S. programs at OSF. "The problems in the current system are deeply entrenched, but the extraordinary individuals who make up the 2012 Soros Justice Fellows offer creative and meaningful solutions that can shape a more just and rational approach."