The Open Society Foundations have announced the 2011 Soros Justice Fellows, a group of eighteen advocates, journalists, lawyers, grassroots organizers, and filmmakers working to advance criminal justice reform at the local, state, and national levels.
Hailing from fourteen states and the District of Columbia, this year's fellows will each receive a twelve- to eighteen-month stipend, ranging from $74,000 to $108,750, to explore a wide range of issues, including prosecutorial misconduct, federal immigration enforcement, and the harsh treatment of youth. OSF awarded a total of $1.6 million to the this year's fellows as part of a broader effort to curb mass incarceration and ensure a fair and equitable system of justice in the United States.
Fellowship recipients include Petra Bartosiewicz, who is researching a book that explores how domestic prosecutions in the "war on terror" have made the U.S. justice system less just and a threat to the liberties of all Americans; Lena Graber, who is working to reduce the government's abuse of immigration "detainers" — a tool used to maintain custody of potentially deportable individuals in local jails or prisons nationwide; Hamid Khan, who will partner with a diverse group of individuals and organizations to challenge Los Angeles Police Department surveillance and profiling practices; and Michelle Tyon, who plans to launch a community dialog and education initiative among the 48,000 Oglala Lakota people in South Dakota that addresses crime, violence, and public safety issues in Native communities.
Other recipients include Gail Tyree, who will use her fellowship funds to help create a network of organizations and individuals in the Southeast focused on stopping for-profit prisons, jails, or detention centers from moving into their communities; Sara Zier, who will seek to deter the incarceration of youth with mental illnesses in Washington state by facilitating their access to community-based mental healthcare services; and Grey Torrico, who will lead a grassroots campaign to resist the efforts of local law enforcement and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants in Collier County, Florida — where immigration enforcement policy has become a local flashpoint.
"The passion and vision of the Soros Justice Fellows offer real hope for a fairer, more equitable justice system for everyone in this country," said Diana Morris, acting executive director of U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations. "These extraordinary individuals are working on a wide range of innovative solutions to address the deep flaws in the current system and to restore justice for all."