NEW YORK—A lawyer working to unite children in foster care with their incarcerated parents and an investigative journalist exposing how justice is dispensed in Guantanamo Bay are among this year’s Open Society Institute Soros Justice Fellows.
The 18 outstanding scholars, advocates, reporters and attorneys will receive a 12-18 month stipend to implement creative projects to assist communities that are marginalized by criminal justice policies. Fellows’ stipends range between $45,000 and $71,250, and tackle issues such as racial profiling, prison reform, immigrants’ rights, and public safety.
“The Open Society Institute is proud to support these innovative leaders who are working to create a stronger, more equitable justice system,” said Antonio Maciel, director of OSI’s U.S. Justice Fund. “The fellowship program not only complements and deepens OSI’s justice reform work, but helps to challenge and expose pervasive inequalities in America.”
The 2007 Soros Justice Fellowships, which amount to $1,075,750 in grants, support work on local, state, and national levels. The Fellows come from 10 states and the District of Columbia.
This is the tenth consecutive year that OSI has offered grants to Soros Justice Fellows—part of a wider effort to strengthen justice in the United States and around the world. Since 1997, OSI has awarded over $12 million to 234 Soros Justice Fellows whose projects have helped to ensure that the criminal justice system in America does not ignore the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized people.
The Open Society Institute over the past decade has spent almost $796 million in the U.S. to support human rights, access to justice, education, palliative care, and the inclusion of all citizens in the democratic process.
2007 Soros Justice Fellows
Patricia Allard; lawyer and advocate; Rebecca Project for Human Rights and Vera Institute for Justice; New York, NY
To research and advocate reforms that give children in foster care and parents who are at risk of incarceration, or already incarcerated, a chance at family reunification.
Ruben Austria; advocate; W. Haywood Burns Institute; Bronx, NY
To reduce the harmful consequences of incarcerating young people, particularly poor youth of color, by fostering alternative-to-detention programs rooted in the communities where the young people live.
Ricardo Barreras; scholar and advocate; Bronx Defenders; Bronx, NY
To research the social, legal, and economic effects of being arrested and processed through the criminal justice system for a misdemeanor criminal charge.
Reginald Gossett; advocate; Critical Resistance; New York, NY
To research and document the rising rates of imprisonment of low-income women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and organize these communities to oppose jail expansion and construction in NYC.
Pippa Holloway; scholar; Middle Tennessee State University; Murfreesboro, TN
To write a book on the history of the disfranchisement of people convicted of crimes. The book will focus on the U.S. South between 1865 and 1965, and will demonstrate the impact of these laws on individuals, examine campaigns for and against voter disfranchisement, and address the experiences of those who sought to restore their political rights.
Kristin Houlé; advocate; Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; Austin, TX
To inform the public and policy makers in Texas about how severe mental illness intersects with the death penalty, and to build coalitions between justice and mental health advocates to oppose the execution of the severely mentally ill.
RaeDeen Karasuda; scholar and advocate; Honolulu, HI
To help formerly incarcerated native Hawaiians transition to life beyond prison by implementing a culturally sensitive reentry curriculum in Hawaii prisons. Karasuda’s project will trace the criminalization and incarceration of Native Hawaiians to their colonial history, and inform the public about particular reentry concerns of Native Hawaiians.
Subhash Kateel; organizer and advocate; Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL
To build an organization run by and for immigrants facing deportation in South Florida. Kateel’s project will cultivate leadership among families directly affected by deportation to raise awareness about the link between criminal justice and immigration issues in South Florida.
Ken Lamberton; author; Tucson, Arizona
To complete and promote his book, Razor Wire Notes, a first person account of the last three years of a 12-year prison sentence. The book explores the structure of human relationships in prison, society’s response to sex crimes, and the intersection of criminal justice with national and state politics, marriage, and family.
Alison Little; advocate; American Civil Liberties Union of Texas; Austin, TX
To address the effects of “zero-tolerance” educational policies and the under-funding of mental health and educational services in Texas, which fuel a school-to-prison pipeline. Little will gather research, develop policy recommendations, and raise public awareness to protect the rights and welfare of children with emotional disturbances and other disabilities.
Jonathan Mahler; journalist; Brooklyn, NY
To write a book about Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni detainee on Guantanamo Bay, and his defense lawyers, a Navy JAG and Georgetown University law professor who sued the Bush Administration on Hamdan’s behalf. The book is a narrative account of the lawsuit—which reached the Supreme Court in Spring 2006—set against the backdrop of the Bush administration’s broader legal strategyin the “War on Terror.”
Laura Mansnerus; journalist; Philadelphia,PA
To write articles examining the nation’s Sexually Violent Predator laws, with a focus on New Jersey. Mansnerus will document how state authorities designate a person as a “sexually violent predator,” and examine the ethical and constitutional problems presented by this collaboration of criminal justice and psychiatry.
JoAnn Mar; journalist; Berkeley, CA
To produce a one-hour radio documentary that explores California’s overcrowded prisons and the dangers caused by these conditions. The program will also address the root causes of prison overcrowding and policy solutions aimed at alleviating the crisis.
Johonna McCants; scholar and advocate; Institute for Community Peace; Washington, DC
To engage women and youth in neighborhoods and jails in Washington, D.C. to develop community-based solutions to violence that do not involve incarceration. She will teach young people to use visual and performing arts to encourage free expression, safety, peace and justice.
Jonathan Rapping; lawyer; Southern Center for Human Rights; Atlanta, GA
To develop an indigent defense training center that will provide instruction and resources to public defenders across the southeastern U.S.
Wilbert Rideau; journalist; Baton Rouge, LA
To write his autobiography about 44 years spent at the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the politics of race and justice.
Robert Rooks; grassroots organizer; Justice Strategies; DeSoto, TX
To connect researchers with grassroots organizations to increase civic participation in criminal justice policy making and reform.
Lauren Sudeall; lawyer; Southern Center for Human Rights; Atlanta, GA
To combine capital litigation, civil litigation, grassroots organizing, and media outreach to draw attention to the injustices experienced by minorities in the criminal justice system.