Interns are trained and supervised in performing the majority of our programmatic work in collaboration with people in women's prisons. Generally, intern responsibilities fall into one or more of three categories: direct legal services, prison abolition campaigns, and human rights documentation.
Direct Legal Services:
Justice Now interns work closely with Justice Now staff members to provide clients with direct legal services in the following areas: emergency/life threatening medical crisis and compassionate release (the early release of people who either are terminally ill with six or fewer months to live or permanently, totally incapacitated due to a medical condition). Interns take on their own caseloads and are responsible for interviewing clients in prison (on prison visits escorted by staff), advocating for clients' medical needs and for their compassionate release where appropriate, and researching and securing alternative placements in hospices, nursing homes, or arranging other palliative end-of-life care in clients' homes. We also provide legal resources to assist people in California women's prisons in safeguarding their legal and human rights, including self-help materials created in partnership with people in prison to address the many issues about which we regularly received inquiries. Interns are closely supervised so they have assistance and mentorship throughout their work.
Prison Abolition Campaigns:
Justice Now interns collaborate with people in California's women's prisons and communities outside to challenge prison expansion and promote alternatives to the prison industrial complex. This program area involves organizing, policy, and public education campaigns. One of our ongoing campaigns is called Let Our Families Have a Future. This campaign is focused on highlighting and ending the many ways that people's right and ability to form a family are interrupted and destroyed by the prison system (including, but not limited to: being imprisoned during reproductive and family formation years, sterilization during the birthing process, and sterilization during other operations without fully informed consent). Additionally, Justice Now works with people in women's prisons and allies outside prison to end prison and jail expansion. Through our Gender Justice campaign, we oppose Gender Responsive strategies that both justify prison and jail expansion and harm people in women's prisons. We also challenge prison overcrowding in California and seek to dramatically reduce the number of people in California prisons by working with people in women's prisons to develop clear messaging that promotes release from prison rather than prison expansion.
Human Rights Documentation Program:
In 2003, we launched our peer-based Human Rights Documentation Program, a legal project in partnership with people in women's prisons to educate the public on how prisons damage communities of color through human rights violations. We use our human rights documentation to challenge policies harming people in prison and their families. We provide information on human rights law and documentation to people in women's prisons and collaborate with them to document human rights abuses in prison under international law. We produce and publicize reports on prison conditions to challenge imprisonment through our campaign and policy work. Issues we have focused on include: the inadequate care provided to pregnant, birthing, and postpartum individuals and the inadequate response to the widespread infection of Hepatitis C. Our most recent focus has been on abuses impacting reproductive health and the right to family, and our work in this area has gained the attention of state legislators, allies across the country, and the United Nations.