Please note that our Manhattan office will be relocating to Industry City in Brooklyn, NY next year.
Ideally the position will be based in our NYC office, however, working from Vera’s DC office or remote work can be considered on a case-by-case basis
Are you passionate about reforming the criminal justice system, specifically improving conditions in prisons and jails across the country? Do you have experience working with corrections systems and knowledge about the way these institutions function? Do you enjoy collaborating and working with people who work and live in prisons and jails, as well as external stakeholders? Or, are you a seasoned reformer of large, complex systems that is interested in bringing that expertise to corrections? Are you exceptional at managing projects and project teams? Do you have the ability to manage work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently? Can you interpret research and use it to make policy and practice decisions? Do you like working with people of diverse experiences and backgrounds? Are you excited about the prospects of traveling domestically for work?
Then you may be the perfect fit for Vera’s project, Safe Prisons, Safe Communities: From Isolation to Dignity and Wellness Behind Bars. We work with corrections systems to help them safely and effectively reduce and reform their use of restrictive housing (also called isolation, segregation, or solitary confinement).
Who we are
The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, envisions a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone.
- We study problems that impede human dignity and justice.
- We pilot solutions that are at once transformative and achievable.
- We engage diverse communities in informed debate.
- We harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice.
For the last 40 years, increasingly punitive sentences and an overreliance on incarceration have characterized American criminal justice policy. The Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) at the Vera Institute of Justice helps policymakers and government partners make more just and effective decisions about public safety and the allocation of costly correctional resources. CSC has a staff of 24 and nearly a dozen active projects spanning sentencing and correctional practice reform, including projects focused on higher education for incarcerated people, segregation reduction, pretrial reform, reductions in prison and jail populations, expanding access to public housing for people with conviction histories, and comparative prison practices.
The Center on Sentencing and Corrections seeks a Senior Program Associate to support its work. You will be a part of the team focused on reducing the use of segregation/restrictive housing/solitary confinement. This position reports to the project director for the current Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Initially you will be assigned one agency to focus on, with an opportunity to expand to other systems as the project grows and evolves.
The project: Since the 1980s, U.S. prisons and jails have increasingly relied on the use of segregation—also known as restrictive housing, isolation, or solitary confinement—to maintain order and manage their populations. The use of segregation remains a mainstay of prison management and control despite evidence pointing to potentially devastating psychological effects, the increased expense of housing people in restrictive housing, and the lack of evidence that the use of restrictive housing leads to greater institutional safety or public safety of the communities to which those who have been held under such severe conditions will return. That said, the tide is turning and corrections officials across the country are motivated to reform this practice.
Vera has partnered with corrections agencies since 2010 to safely reduce their reliance on segregation and develop alternative strategies. Since that time, we have worked in 16 jurisdictions across the country, helping systems achieve segregation population reductions as high as 85 percent. Vera is moving into a new phase of the work, which will involve working intensively in states to implement reforms that will drive down the use of solitary even further than has already been achieved, engage external stakeholders to support reform efforts, and disseminate new promising practices being implemented in Vera’s jurisdictions and in other systems to the field.
Responsibilities: The Senior Program Associate will carry out the following duties:
- Provide technical assistance primarily to a state corrections agency by working with them on a range of activities, including identifying 3-4 policy and practice changes that will target the biggest drivers of their segregation population, drafting new policies, developing and executing a plan for repurposing segregation units, revamping the system’s disciplinary policies and process, and developing alternative response options.
- Facilitate meetings and workshops with senior leadership; facility staff; uniform, program, and mental health staff.
- Engage external stakeholders such as legislators, governor’s staff, and advocates.
- Lead a three-person team working in your site, including a policy associate and researcher, as well as consultants who may be brought on to support the work.
- Develop workplans, draft memos, give presentations.
- Conduct site visits to DOC headquarters, state capitals, facilities throughout the state(s) you are working with, and other locations deemed necessary.
- Work with research staff and other members of the project team to 1) conduct focus groups and surveys of staff and/or incarcerated people to inform development of new policies and practices, and assess implementation process and impact, and 2) analyze administrative and other data to inform implementation plans and execution.
- Author reports, publications, policy briefs.
- As a part of the segregation team, you will also assist the project director with strategic planning and development of new approaches for Vera’s segregation work; identify ways to expand Vera’s public education campaign on the national use of segregation and strategies to reduce that use; and assist with funding proposals.
Qualifications: The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:
- Law degree or graduate degree in criminal justice, public policy, public administration, or other related field preferred. (Significant professional experience with no graduate degree will also be considered.);
- Seven to twelve years of relevant experience;
- Experience living or working in/with prison or jail systems;
- In-depth knowledge of and commitment to the criminal justice field, specifically prison and jail systems, conditions of confinement, policy development, strategies to reform systems and institutions, and an understanding of relevant evidence-based principles and behavior change models (for example, procedural justice, RNR model, CBT and DBT programming).
- We will also consider candidates who are seasoned reformers of large, complex systems that are interested in bringing that expertise to corrections;
- Experience working with high-level government partners, corrections staff, and incarcerated people;
- Strong writing, presentation, and facilitation skills required;
- Project management experience with the ability to manage work on multiple projects effectively and meet deadlines;
- Experience and comfort with interpreting social science and/or policy research and using it to inform policy and practice decisions;
- Ability to work independently as well as part of a team, both as a team leader and as a member; and
- Ability and willingness to travel frequently.
$75K-$90K. Potential negotiation for someone with significant and directly relevant experience. Excellent benefits.
Location: This position is based in Vera’s New York City office. Will consider applicants for Vera’s DC office or remote work on a case-by-case basis
Please submit a cover letter and resume.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Online submission in PDF format is preferred.
However, if necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to
ATTN: Human Resources / CSC Senior Program Associate
Vera Institute of Justice
233 Broadway, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10279
Fax: (212) 941-9407
Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.
No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.
Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.
Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.
For more information about Vera, please visit our website, www.vera.org.