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Smart Justice Policy Manager or Counsel

Application Deadline: November 8, 2022

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA) seeks a passionate and strategic advocate to help lead its efforts to substantially reduce incarceration in Washington and work with stakeholders and community to develop new approaches and alternatives to our current criminal legal system. In addition to providing strategic leadership on criminal legal issues, the Smart Justice Policy Manager or Counsel will work as a member of the Policy Advocacy Group (PAG), collaborating with the PAG Director and PAG team members to develop additional policy priorities consistent with the ACLU-WA's strategic plan. The Smart Justice Policy Manager or Counsel will also work collaboratively with the entire office.

The title of Counsel or Manager will be dependent upon the degree and/or experience held. Candidates with a Juris Doctorate will be considered for the Counsel title, those without will be considered for the Manager title.


The ACLU of Washington is a leader among state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, the country's premier guardian of liberty. We work in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect and extend American rights to freedom, fairness, and equality. The ACLU is both nonprofit and nonpartisan. We have a staff of 45+ and are supported by more than 135,000 members, activists, and donors.

Within the ACLU-WA, the Policy Advocacy Group works to effectuate change through state and local legislation, rulemaking, institutional policy change, community-driven advocacy, public education, coalition building and media work. Through our engagement with community stakeholders, we strive to center and amplify the voices, perspectives, and experiences of directly impacted communities and individuals. PAG uses an integrated advocacy approach, working collaboratively with the Legal, Political Strategies, and Communications teams to further its goals.

Within PAG, ACLU-WA's Smart Justice team advocates for alternatives that are fair, more effective, and less costly than incarceration. It replaces unnecessarily punitive measures with approaches that emphasize repairing the harm caused by crimes.

The ACLU of Washington is committed to ending racism in Washington State and throughout the country. This includes how we work with each other, and with our partners and allies in the communities we serve. We are committed to bringing anti-racism to all aspects of ACLU-WA's internal and external functions, including but not limited to recruitment; hiring and human resources; strategic planning; ally, donor, and volunteer relations; Board and committee processes; and deciding what cases to litigate and what legislation to support and oppose. We are looking for candidates who share this commitment to advancing racial justice, both internally in our organization and externally in the communities that we serve.

*Please note: the ACLU-WA is closely following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Currently, we have begun transitioning back to the office and hope to open fully under our new Hybrid Work Policy later this year. We will continue to carefully monitor public health pronouncements and recommendations.

To aid remote work, we provide laptops, home office supplies, certain equipment, and technology support. You will need an effective WiFi connection and a way to reach you by phone. This position is eligible for either a work phone or phone stipend, as well as an additional $100 stipend each month to help cover any additional costs while working from home.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, socio-economic circumstance, or record of arrest or conviction. We do not conduct criminal background checks on our candidates. People of color, women, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.


· Participation in ACLU-WA’s race equity work. This may include utilizing ACLU-WA race equity tools, adopting ACLU-WA race equity practices, serving on the Race Equity Team or subcommittees, etc.

· Lead the development of the ACLU-WA's Smart Justice goals, including but not limited to, pretrial reform, ending solitary confinement, increased voting in prisons and jails, and reduction of long-term and overly punitive sentences, in collaboration with ACLU-WA team members and community partners.

· Conduct legal analysis and policy research, and draft legislative and other policy proposals on the smart justice campaign in Washington.

· Collaborate with other ACLU-WA team members, including the Political Strategies Department, Communications Department and Legal Department to identify tactics and structure campaigns to reduce incarceration, particularly the disparate incarceration of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color (BIPOC). Collaborate with National ACLU and other affiliates to advance shared goals to reform the criminal legal system. Develop and implement strategies for working with directly impacted stakeholders and allied organizations to advance shared goals, including actively supporting community coalitions. Build trusted relationships with other advocates, impacted individuals, and family members who have been impacted by the criminal legal system.

· Work with the PAG Director and PAG team members to define additional policy needs consistent with the ACLU-WA strategic plan. This will include leadership on projects outside of criminal legal policy issues.

· Support the ACLU-WA in lobbying for organizational priorities.

· In collaboration with other ACLU-WA team members, identify and respond to emerging criminal legal issues.

· Represent the ACLU-WA in community coalitions, the state legislative process, and before other administrative bodies and local decision makers.

· Advance the ACLU-WA's goal to conduct its work through a racial equity lens.

· Serve as a strategic advisor and participant to ACLU-WA litigation teams and ACLU-WA attorneys working on amicus briefs.

· Conduct public education through training, presentations, drafting and publishing reports, and know your rights guides.

· Speak regularly with reporters and represent the ACLU-WA on various media platforms.

· Supervise interns, fellows, volunteers, and other staff as needed.

· Travel throughout the state; attend ACLU-WA events, including some work on nights and weekends.


At the ACLU-WA, we work with staff to develop skills and support each other’s work. If the position sounds like a good fit, please do not let fear of not having every qualification deter you from applying.

· Ideal candidates will have an awareness of, and willingness to engage in, the difficult and transformative work of challenging systems of oppression, institutional and structural racism, and implicit bias.

· 2+ years of working on national, state, or local policy advocacy efforts, with a strong understanding of legal concepts and a demonstrated ability to develop and lead policy initiatives required.

· Experience in criminal defense, civil rights policy, and especially sentencing law. Willingness and ability to develop expertise in these or other policy areas.

· Strong writing, research, and communication skills in presenting both to lawyers and the public. The ability to distill complex information.

· A track record of successfully directing and completing long-term projects. Strong leadership and organizational skills; the ability to work independently as well as support and collaborate with others.

· Experience working with BIPOC communities, currently and formerly incarcerated people, people with disabilities including neuro-divergent, and family members. The ability to bring diverse people together to address multifaceted issues.

· A high degree of emotional intelligence; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.

· A demonstrated commitment to racial equity; experience developing and implementing advocacy strategies that center the voices and lived experiences of directly impacted communities.

· J.D. or relevant advanced degree preferred.


The ACLU-WA office, in downtown Seattle, is generally open between the hours of 9am and 5pm over a 35-hour work week. The physical demands and work environment described below represent those required and encountered by an employee to perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

· Able to input information into a computer for long periods of time.

· Able to remain stationary for extended periods.

· Able to assess information communicated through a computer.

· Able to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays.

· Able to work long and extended hours.

· Able to travel locally/regionally/across the state occasionally.

This position is “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.


The ACLU of WA is dedicated to centering equity in all aspects of the organization and, as such, has adopted a salary scale for measuring how to best compensate its employees. The salary range for this position is $75,080 - $133,323. A range indicates the intention to accommodate those with varying years of relevant experience, as determined by the salary scale.

Benefits include three weeks of vacation, thirteen sick days, fifteen holidays, fully paid employee medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance, a generous retirement plan, student loan reimbursement, family care and adoption assistance, life insurance, and an ORCA card, the regional transportation pass.


To apply, please submit a cover letter and résumé on our online job portal. In your cover letter, please explain the ways in which you satisfy the skills and qualifications specified above. We also invite applicants to include in their letter information about how their background and/or experience could contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and advocacy work.

Applications will be accepted until November 8, 2022, at which time the job announcement will be marked as “closed” on our website at


We will schedule interviews with qualified candidates after the application deadline and hope to have the selected candidate start no later than January 2023.

The ACLU of Washington comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation. The two corporations share the same overall mission, office space, and employees. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU of Washington”.

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