Seventeen lawyers, advocates, scholars, and journalists will tackle issues from death penalty reform and the criminalization of immigrants to juvenile justice and the challenges of parenting in prison under Soros Justice Fellowships awarded this week by the Open Society Institute. The fellows will receive a total of more than $1.3 million. Among the new fellows is a community organizer in Nashville whose son was murdered in street violence and who spent more than half her life involved with the criminal justice system. She will train current and former gang members to become advocates for reform.
Another fellow, a Seattle lawyer, will challenge a common police practice that bans homeless and poor people from entire city neighborhoods. A fellow in Virginia, a parent whose son was incarcerated in the juvenile justice system, is now a full-time advocate for reform in a state that houses youth in adult jails. The fellows will each receive a stipend of $45,000 to $79,500 to undertake projects lasting 12-18 months. The fellowship program has operated since 1997.