Policy Officer – Criminal Justice Reform

New York, United States
Industry Sector:
Type of contract:

Policy Officer – Criminal Justice Reform

← Back to listings

Recruiters representing Open Society Foundation’s – Arab Offices will be available at our next event. Register here

Interested applicants must submit a CV, cover letter, and any relevant English-language writing sample along with their application. The cover letter should articulate your interest and suitability for the Policy Officer position, including your thoughts on how best to work with both governments and civil society to bring about sustainable rights-based criminal justice reforms. 

The Justice Initiative, an operational program of Open Society, uses litigation and other forms of legal advocacy to empower people, defend the rule of law, and advance human rights. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, we promote and defend accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, challenge abuses related to national security and counterterrorism initiatives, expand access to and exercise of freedom of information and expression, and confront corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources.

To our activities we bring deep and varied practice of litigation and other forms of legal advocacy, familiarity with legal and related political fora, substantive knowledge of human rights issues, and issue- and place-specific expertise and experience. We collaborate with a community of dedicated and skillful human rights advocates across the globe, and form part of a dynamic and progressive justice movement that reflects the diversity of the world it inhabits. More information on the Justice Initiative and its activities can be found at www.justiceinitiative.org.

To promote national criminal justice reform, the Justice Initiative works globally to improve pre-trial justice practices, including more humane and rational use of pre-trial detention; increase access to quality legal aid and other defense rights; document, challenge and demand accountability for torture; and promote rights-based prosecutorial and police practices in the pre-trial phase of criminal justice proceedings.

Job Profile

We are seeking an experienced, dynamic and committed Policy Officer to help advance our global criminal justice reform efforts. Based in New York, reporting to the Senior Managing Legal Officer for National Criminal Justice Reform, and working with a global team based across multiple office locations, the Policy Officer will serve as a strategic and technical subject matter expert on issues of criminal justice, including effective and accountable prosecutions and police practices which are compliant with pre-trial rights, fair and effective criminal defense, prevention and punishment of torture, and the rational use of pre-trial detention.

Essential duties and responsibilities will include:

  • developing and implementing strategic, country-specific interventions which will utilize a range of legal, technical, and methodological tools to enhance defense rights, prevent torture, and improve the fairness and effectiveness of pre-trial proceedings.
  • conducting primary research on complex topics and tracking developments in the field, including through review and analysis of primary materials from a range of legal systems, as well as research and findings of donors, civil society and technical and academic experts.
  • building relationships with local actors in the criminal justice system and civil society in order to develop, implement and assess the progress and impact of specific interventions across a range of stakeholders; and represent the Justice Initiative and Open Society Foundations with official partners, with NGOs and grantees and with other colleagues in OSF grant-making and thematic programs.
  • serving as team leader for complex projects managing criminal justice interventions on a day-to-day basis in multiple settings, building monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and reporting on those results to a range of internal (domestic justice agencies, and OSF) and external audiences.
  • extensive travel required, with a possibility of extended periods of stay in project countries.

Candidate profile

  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in law, criminology, international affairs/relations, public policy, human rights, political science, sociology or any other relevant subject .​
  • Minimum of 7–10 years of relevant experience in the criminal justice field, with past experience working as a criminal justice professional (whether as police or security officer, investigator, crime analyst, prosecutor, judicial officer, court administrator, etc.).
  • Experience working on criminal justice issues in Latin America and/or Africa especially valued.​
  • Demonstratrable understanding and ability to work with criminal justice data systems an advantage, including identification of data sources, data system management and analysis, tracking and verification systems.
  • Commitment to human rights and experience of working with civil society and advancing social change and institutional reforms.
  • Political analysis and networking skills at sub-national, national and regional level, including demonstrated ability to negotiate and build relationships with both official and non-governmental partners in varied settings.
  • Advocacy and messaging skills with demonstrated ability to adapt to varied political and popular discourses on public security issues, including offending and criminal justice responses.
  • Technical and writing skills in drafting legal and technical content and action plans for Justice Initiative objectives and adapt these to national contexts, in cooperation with local partners.
  • Excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences.
  • Flexible work style, able to work within a program team while also taking individual responsibilities in the field, creating clear information channels across projects, and regions.
  • Proficiency in English language skills, fluency in at least one of the following languages: Spanish (especially preferred), Portuguese, French, Arabic or Russian.
  • Competence in advancing diversity, expertise in relevant subject matter, strategic thinking, working well with colleagues and leading teams that work and grow.

Work Environment and Physical Demands:

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.


In your application please specify that you found out about this opportunity on GCFjobs.com
Veuillez indiquer dans votre candidature que vous avez consulté cette offre sur le site web GCFjobs.com

Open Society Foundation

Their Mission

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

They seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.

They help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

They implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.

Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

All Open Society Foundation jobs