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11 May 2022

Full-Time John Howard Association Prison Policy Manager

John Howard Association of Illinois – Posted by Chicago, Illinois, United States

Job Description

John Howard Association Prison Policy Manager

About JHA

The John Howard Association (JHA) is Illinois’ only independent, non-profit, citizen correctional oversight organization and criminal justice reform advocacy group.  JHA monitors state prisons and publicly reports our findings and recommendations.  In service of this work, we conduct onsite prison monitoring visits, conduct interviews during our visits, survey thousands of people who are incarcerated in Illinois and staff who work inside the prisons in order to gather their thoughts, concerns, perceptions and experiences, and confidentially communicate with incarcerated people about their experiences through privileged mail. We use on the ground observations, data analysis, and recommendations grounded in research and best practice to advance policy reform and advocate for changes to the conditions and treatment of people inside prisons.  Our work informs and educates stakeholders, decision makers and the public about the realities of Illinois’ prisons and the need for system change. The organization’s key objectives include advocating for improved conditions in prison while highlighting the urgent need for reform in closely related areas of the criminal justice system (e.g., sentencing, parole, and reentry); leveraging our unique access to promote transparency and accountability in Illinois state prisons and throughout the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC); and working to expand the field of civilian correctional oversight through the development, documentation and publication of  available oversight methods and best practices in order to promote visibility into all carceral settings.

JHA has monitored prisons and correctional policies and practices for over 120 years, advancing needed reform to achieve a fair, humane and effective criminal justice system. JHA monitors both the adult and juvenile state prisons in Illinois and advances policy change related to adult and juvenile facilities as well as many other areas in the criminal legal system that impact the over reliance and experience of incarceration.

About the Position

JHA seeks a highly qualified professional to join our advocacy team to carry out the organization’s core programming. This role is an exciting opportunity for a motivated professional with experience conducting systems reform advocacy and authoring high-impact written materials. JHA’s Prison Policy Manager will work with the monitoring staff to analyze and evaluate data, conditions, programming, treatment of prisoners and implementation of policy to determine and recommend needed policy changes.  This person will research and draft memos, reports, statements, create legislative materials, and fact sheets; participate in working groups and coalitions to educate stakeholders, policy makers and the public about prison conditions and the impact of incarceration on individuals, families, and communities; and advocate for needed reform in a variety of ways. This individual will be part of a small, dedicated team that uses our work and knowledge of Illinois prisons to change laws and policies that impact people who are incarcerated. One of the unique aspects of JHA’s work, beyond our access to prisons, is that our ongoing and continued monitoring allows us to evaluate and report on the implementation of new policies and practices and observe first hand if there is compliance with mandated changes and determine if the outcomes are as expected or if there are unintentional consequences that need to be addressed.

The Prison Policy Manager position at JHA is an exciting opportunity to help build the foundation for prison and criminal justice system change in Illinois and use your exceptional communication skills to inform, educate and advocate for reform.

Key Responsibilities 

JHA’s Prison Policy Manager will carry out activities related to providing meaningful oversight of Illinois’ state prisons and advancing criminal justice reform more broadly.  The work of this position includes:

  • Collaborate with JHA staff, volunteers and interns to support our core program work and further our mission to advance correctional policies, practices, treatment and conditions that are fair, humane, and effective.
  • Work with colleagues and allies to set and advance policy and research goals.
  • Track and analyze criminal justice legislative proposals, acting as JHA proxy in supporting and opposing specific initiatives.
  • Regularly collaborate with other advocates and stakeholders to share information, stay up to date on legislative landscape and build support for JHA led initiatives.
  • Research and draft policy proposals, including legislative language and testimony.
  • Develop and maintain expertise on relevant laws, as well as IDOC policies, practices and data, get and stay informed on legal, advocacy, and compliance frameworks (such as settlement agreements pursuant to litigation or accreditation efforts) and how they interact with existing state law impacting operations, and conditions and concerns in the institutions.
  • Attend monitoring visits to state prisons with JHA monitoring staff, ability to obtain IDOC clearance (conducted by IDOC not JHA) and State-wide travel are required.
  • Work with colleagues to design surveys, collect and manage data, interpret results, and report on both the data and anecdotal findings.
  • Use survey findings and data to support policy agenda and change initiatives
  • Support the creation of and provide support for JHA community engagement efforts in order to receive and share information with people who are directly impacted by incarceration that will inform JHA policy priorities and initiatives.
  • Work with JHA team to promote expanded prison oversight and increase transparency and accountability of State actors in the corrections system.

Experience and Qualifications

JHA is seeking an accomplished candidate comfortable working across a variety of functions as part of a small, hard-working team. Desirable attributes include:

  • Advanced degree in a related field (can be in process).
  • Experience and knowledge of corrections – consideration of both academic, lived and professional background/experience will be given, combination preferred.
  • Knowledge and understanding of penal policies and practices at local, state and national levels.
  • Excellent writing skills which demonstrate ability to critically evaluate data and articulately convey observational information.
  • Strong research skills and ability to include relevant research in written materials.
  • Demonstrated analytical abilities, including data analysis, and critical thinking skills, reflected in written work and oral presentations.
  • Ability to effectively manage multiple projects simultaneously and produce high quality work products that demonstrate strong attention to detail.
  • Strong communication skills, including ability to effectively and respectfully dialogue with stakeholders, legislators, people who are incarcerated and prison staff and administrators, as well as diverse groups of people in a variety of other professional settings and situations.
  • Interest and commitment to reducing reliance on incarceration and the scope and impact of the criminal legal system while advocating for the humanity and dignity of people who are in government custody.


This is a full-time position with benefits and generous time off allowance.  Salary range is $55,000 – 60,000.00 commensurate with experience.  JHA is currently working remotely due to the pandemic but anticipates returning to work in a flexible/hybrid fashion in our office in downtown Chicago in the coming months.

How to Apply 

JHA is actively recruiting highly qualified candidates to begin immediately. Interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible by sending a cover letter and resume via email to Dan Hoffman,

Diverse candidates are encouraged to apply. At JHA, we believe that differences and diversity benefit our staff, our mission, our work and our community.  JHA is an equal opportunity work place and we welcome applications from all candidates regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability status, and age. Further, we highly value those who have lived criminal justice system experience.

Job Categories: Equal Opportunities. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 40,000 - 60,000.

Job expires in 31 days.

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