The Open Society Foundations has announced the 2014 class of Soros Justice Fellows.
The fourteen fellows from six states will receive a total of $1.25 million in support of their work on a range of criminal justice issues, from solitary confinement, to DNA databases, to police misconduct, with each fellow receiving a stipend of between $58,700 and $110,250 for projects lasting between twelve and eighteen months.
The 2014 fellows include Starcia Ague, the only "juvenile lifer" ever to be pardoned by the governor of Washington state, who will use her award to launch a project aimed at developing the leadership skills of youth in detention, enabling them to better advocate for their rights and lead productive lives after they are released; Esi Mathis, the mother of a child sentenced to die in prison and the grandmother and aunt of victims of violent crime, who will use her award to train and mobilize citizens directly affected when young people are charged and sentenced as adults; and Leslie Jill Patterson, a professor of English at Texas Tech University, who will use her award to promote the use of storytelling in capital murder plea negotiations, habeas proceedings, and clemency petitions to reduce executions in the state of Texas.
"We are proud to support these extraordinary individuals working to curb mass incarceration and develop new approaches to ensure accountability in the justice system," said Ken Zimmerman, director of U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations. "We hope their projects will spur debate, catalyze change, and lift the curtain on a closed system rife with inequities."