The Open Society Institute has announced its Soros Justice Fellows for 2010, a group of eighteen scholars, lawyers, advocates, and journalists hailing from nine states and the District of Columbia who will receive a total of $1.4 million for efforts to reform the U.S. justice system.
Since 1997, OSI has awarded more than $15 million to Soros Justice Fellows as part of a broader effort to curb mass incarceration and ensure a fair and equitable system of justice in the United States. This year's fellows, each of whom will receive a twelve- to eighteen-month stipend ranging from $45,000 to $108,750, include Reginald Dwayne Betts, who will write a book about the ways crime and mass incarceration affect individuals not in prison; Ronald Chatters III, who will advocate on behalf of the thousands of people with disabilities who leave Los Angeles jails every year; William Collins, who will examine the ways in which racial and ethnic minorities are purged from Louisiana capital juries; and Alexandra Cox, who will develop and implement research and protocols for improving relationships between youth and staff in juvenile facilities.
Fellowships also were awarded to Amanda J. Crawford for a series of magazine articles on the consequences of the drug war; Manuel Criollo, who will spearhead an effort to challenge Los Angeles County's truancy law and gang database; Renee Feltz and Stokely Baksh for a multimedia investigative report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Operation Secure Communities; Guy Gambill, who will advocate for alternatives to arrest and incarceration for veterans; Raj Jayadev, who will develop an action network within communities most targeted by the justice system; Laura McCargar, who will work to help stem the flow of Connecticut youth into the school-to-prison pipeline; Alison McCrary, who will challenge law enforcement practices that criminalize New Orleans' Social Aid and Pleasure clubs and Mardi Gras Indian groups; Zachary Norris for a national effort to support families of incarcerated youth; Laurie Jo Reynolds for a series of educational and cultural programs that address the unintended consequences of sex offender statutes in Illinois; Marie Claire Tran-Leung, who will use the federal Fair Housing Act to challenge discrimination in the private rental housing market against people with criminal records; Jesse Wegman, who will write a book and a series of articles on jailhouse lawyers; Flozelle Woodmore, who served twenty years of a life sentence for killing her abusive partner, to organize friends and family members of people serving life sentences; and Malcolm Young for a project that aims to increase job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.
"The Soros Justice Fellows offer hope and the possibility for real and lasting change for a criminal justice system that has long been in crisis," said Ann Beeson, OSI executive director for U.S. programs. "Now, more than ever, we welcome their commitment and vision."