Legal Advocacy and Social Justice Internship


Cause Areas


It's flexible! We'll work with your schedule.


1322 Webster Street, Suite 210Oakland, CA 94612


Justice Now works with people in women’s prisons and local communities to build a world without prisons. We believe that prisons and policing are not making our communities safe and whole, but that the current system harms both the people it imprisons and their communities. From using a gender justice framework, we understand that all of the violence we face is interconnected. State efforts to criminalize violence against women, transphobic violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence have not ended those harms. Instead, criminalization has only extended the reach of the prison industrial complex. We are interested not only in challenging what we see happening in prisons, but also in building a different world - a world where all of us have affordable housing, food, healthcare, economic opportunity, and freedom from both individual and state violence. This vision includes creating new ways to respond when people harm each other - ways that no longer rely on violence and control.

Prison Abolition Campaigns Justice Now interns collaborate with people in California’s women’s prisons and communities outside to challenge prison expansion and promote alternatives to the prison industrial complex. We also challenge prison overcrowding inCaliforniaand seek to dramatically reduce the number of people inCaliforniaprisons by working with people in women’s prisons to develop clear messaging that promotes release from prison (decarceration) rather than prison expansion. We rely on a first-of-its-kind grassroots participatory research model, training and partnering with people in prison to document abuses and harms caused by the PIC and to propose remedies. This type of peer-based participatory research, pioneered by Justice Now, is now a common form of research and documentation. This innovative form of reciprocal learning trains Justice Now staff, interns, and the community in the 'free world’ on the solutions and alternatives to the PIC proposed by women, transgender men, and gender non-conforming folks in CA women’s prisons, who experience daily the oppression and violence of surviving behind prison walls. We recently have expanded into work exploring community-based, holistic reentry options that operate as an alternative to reentry hubs that are state-funded extensions of the prison system.

Direct Legal Services

Justice Now interns work closely with Justice Now staff members to provide people with direct legal services and advocacy to address immediate trauma inflicted by the prison system, creating the temporary respite needed for people inside to engage in systemic change work. We also provide legal resources to assist people inCaliforniawomen’s prisons in safeguarding their legal and human rights, including self-help materials created in partnership with people in prison to address the many issues about which we regularly receive inquiries. Our work has a direct service component designed to support activists in prison and bring to the abolitionist community a direct connection to people in prison. Justice Now has worked to reinvigorate this connection and to dispel the myth that you can’t do long term systems change work while also helping address violence people experience in the here and now. We believe the two types of work are intrinsically linked and are how we outreach to the bulk of our community. Interns take on their own caseloads and are responsible for interviewing people in prison on prison visits, and are closely supervised so they have assistance and mentorship throughout their work.


Justice Now is organized as a legal and social justice training clinic, providing internships year-round to community members and students. We encourage applications from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds and prioritize applications of those who have been directly impacted by the prison industrial complex. We take seriously our goal of training the next generation of activists and lawyers in a multifaceted approach to social change work. Interns are trained and supervised in performing the majority of our programmatic work in collaboration with people inside of and who have come home from women’s prisons.

To challenge the systems of privilege that allow only certain people access to legal skills, we allot a maximum of half of our intern slots to law students. You do not need to be a law student to do legal advocacy. Interns doing direct legal services will have their own caseload for which they are primarily responsible, regardless of their educational background or experience. Interns are trained to combine their legal service work with broader human rights, legislative, media, and grassroots organizing efforts in collaboration with people in prison. We select 5 - 8 interns every fall, spring and summer. *Priority is given to people of color, people who were formerly imprisoned, and family members of people in prison.*


Please direct questions and/or a résumé and cover letter to Allie Cislo, Development and Communications Director. Email is preferred, but application materials can also be mailed (1322 Webster Street, Suite 210, Oakland, CA94612) or faxed (510.839.7615). You may contact Allie directly at: (preferentially) or 510.839.7654, ext 1#.

In your cover letter, please answer the following questions: 1) What is your relationship to the prison industrial complex? 2) What do you hope to get out of you internship with Justice Now? 3) How did you hear about Justice Now?

Training provided. School credit when applicable (please note: because of staffing transitions, we may not meet law school externship credit requirements at this time. Please contact us for more details). Personal experience with the criminal legal system, background/interest in analyses of oppression, and/or Spanish language ability a plus. Located in downtown Oakland with easy access to BART/bus from SF Bay Area.


Martha, Margaret, and Rachael submitted and documented Public Records Act requests to all 58California counties in order to assemble a compliance report for our Anti-Sterilization Abuse Bill. This law bans coercive sterilization abuse inside, and was based on years of participatory documentation in prison, a practice pioneered by Justice Now through which people inside are trained on international human rights law and documentation methods. Through their research, Justice Now uncovered new illegal sterilizations had occurred in county jails, and assisted noncompliant counties to amend their policies and prevent future abuses of human rights.

Cammie facilitated political organizing inside women’s prisons to develop a statewide network that opposes expansion of the women’s prison system and amplifies the voices of people most impacted to demand decarceration as an alternative to continued violations of human and civil rights.

Eliot helped win compassionate release for a terminally ill person in prison, allowing them to come home and spend their final days with family. Since 2000, our interns have won the early release from prison of more than 75 people; annually our interns provide legal services to over 250 people in prison.

Monica translated into Spanish chapters of a self-help curriculum written in partnership with people in women’s prisons that provides medical, legal, and political education information and resources to people inside. She also supported our peer education network inside prisons; through this network, annually we provide information to over 1000 people.

Michelle worked with people in women’s prisons to write their own articles and op-eds suitable for publications in major newspapers and other media. Her work was part of our Media Justice Project that gives people in women’s prison a public voice by placing their opinion pieces in mainstream media.

Hanâ conducted outreach for and helped plan a grassroots community event to raise funds for people affected by staff violence inside Central California Women’s Facility. She also wrote a media piece published in For Harriet on women’s prisons and mass incarceration:


  • Event Design & Planning
  • Research
  • Fundraising
  • Case Work / Management
  • Administrative Support
  • Community Outreach

Good Match For


Requirements & Commitment

  • Orientation or Training
  • Spring: min 8-10 hours/week; Summer: 32 hours/week

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