Sixteen fellows — including community organizers, journalists, lawyers, policy advocates, and artists — in ten states will receive a total of $1.4 million in support of their efforts to advance reform and spur debate on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system. Each fellow will be awarded stipends ranging from $52,500 to $120,000 in support of full-time projects lasting twelve to eighteen months.
The 2018 Soros Justice Fellows include an artist whose fellowship is supported with the help of the newly established Art for Justice Fund. As a dual Art for Justice and Soros Justice fellow, Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes will use musical compositions to explore violence and incarceration in communities of color from the perspective of trauma and healing. Other fellows include Giselle Ariel Bleuz, who will work to build the capacity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people to produce and distribute media about how the criminal justice system impacts their communities; MiAngel Cody, whose Banished Project will amplify the stories of African Americans incarcerated under America's "three strikes" drug law and challenge the federal government's refusal to disclose information about people serving mandatory life sentences under the law; Linda Heng, who will document the experiences of Southeast Asian youth affected by deportation and the criminal justice system and help promote their leadership in the broader social justice movement for Southeast Asians; and Anthony Robles, who will develop an interactive website that documents the stories of victims of fatal police use of force in Los Angeles.
"Open society values face countless threats in this country, and those threats seem to be coming at a truly head-spinning pace," said Lenny Noisette, who oversees the Soros Justice Fellowships for the Open Society Foundations' U.S. Programs. "We're fortunate to be able to support a group of people who will work to ensure that criminal justice reform remains front and center in debates about fairness and justice in this country — debates that have more urgency now than ever."