• American Civil Liberties Union
  • Washington D.C., DC, USA
  • Jul 16, 2019
Intern Public Policy

Job Description




Title:  Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 National Prison Project Undergraduate Internship

Office:  National Offices

Location:  Washington, DC

Posted:  Jul 12 2019


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Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 Undergraduate INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY


American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

National Prison Project, DC



For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, record of arrest or conviction.


The National Prison Project of the ACLU’s National Office in Washington, D.C. seeks undergraduate interns for the Fall 2019 / Spring of 2020.  The interns will primarily be working closely with a team of NPP staff attorneys, litigation fellows, paralegals, and campaign strategist to create change in prison conditions through class action litigation and strategic legislative and advocacy campaigns.




Founded in 1972 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Prison Project (NPP) seeks to ensure constitutional conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and immigration detention facilities. The Project seeks to promote prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. Its priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment, and increasing oversight and accountability in prisons, jails, and other places of detention.


The Project also works to challenge the policies of over-incarceration that have led the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world. This is an opportune moment to reform those policies. There is a growing consensus among criminal justice experts and policymakers that America’s criminal justice system has relied too heavily on incarceration as the first and often only response for non-violent behavior that could better be addressed through other means. The population in American prisons and jails has tripled in the past 15 years and now approaches two and a half million. Facilities are overcrowded; medical systems are overwhelmed; work, education, and treatment programs are inadequate; and prison violence has increased. This failed experiment does not make us safer, it is not affordable, and it exacerbates the racial disparities that have long plagued the criminal justice system.


The Project, with a staff of six lawyers, has fought and continues to fight unlawful prison conditions and practices through successful litigation on behalf of prisoners in more than 25 states. Since 1991, the Project has represented prisoners in five cases before the United States Supreme Court. The ACLU is the only organization litigating prison conditions of confinement nationwide on behalf of men, women, and children.




The internships are preferably full-time; however, candidates who can only work part-time with weekly hours that are negotiable are also welcome to apply. The internships require a commitment for the semester and arrangements can be made with the student’s school for a work/study stipend or course credit. The fall semester internship has a preferred start date of September 3, 2019.




Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the National Prison Project team. They will also learn about creating change through class action litigation and about building and supporting strategic legislative and advocacy campaigns. Work may include the following:

  • Assisting with the production and distribution of advocacy materials.
  • Conducting factual research and writing regarding criminal justice policy and legislative movement.
  • Gathering current information related to prison and jail conditions.
  • Documenting and tracking complaints received from prisoners and responding with informational materials.
  • Providing campaign and litigation support to supervising attorneys.
  • Other projects as assigned.




The internship is open to students who have completed their first year of an undergraduate degree. Interns should possess the following:

  • A strong interest in criminal justice and a commitment to civil rights.
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to work independently.
  • Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
  • Strong computer skills, particularly web-based research including proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access).
  • A commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Commitment to the mission of the ACLU.



Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Students are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible as decisions are made on a rolling basis.


This posting provides a general but not comprehensive list of the opportunities of the internship. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the posting at any time without advance notice.


The ACLU is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please e-mail benefits.hrdept@aclu.org.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.




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A stipend is available for those students who do not receive outside funding and/or course credit. Arrangements can be made with the student’s school for a work/study stipend or course credit.