Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) Position Announcement

Client Services Specialist/Social Worker

Start Date: Immediate

Applications accepted through August 7st, 2021

About IPNO:

Founded in 2001, IPNO is a nonprofit legal office that frees innocent people who are serving life sentences, supports them living well and fully in the world after their release, and advocates for sensible criminal justice policies that reduce wrongful convictions. IPNO has freed or exonerated 37 innocent people who have spent nearly 900 years in prison between them.

IPNO’s Unjust Punishment Project, started in 2019, advocates for the release of people serving life or near-life sentences for nonviolent crimes through thoughtful and creative litigation and advocacy. To date, IPNO has freed 7 individuals who have spent nearly 130 years in prison between them.

IPNO uses its cases to expose the causes of wrongful convictions and advocates for policies and practices that will prevent or reduce the number of wrongful convictions. IPNO works with legislators, judges, lawyers, law enforcement, policymakers, and community advocates to transform the criminal legal system.

Position Summary

The Client Services Specialist/Social Worker is the supervisor of Innocence Project New Orleans’ Client Services Division. The Client Services Division provides comprehensive support to IPNO’s clients before and after their release from prison. Many of IPNO’s clients have served decades in prison fighting for their freedom. In prison, they have been denied adequate medical and mental health services, meaningful opportunities to gain life and work skills, and have encountered and endured physical harm, emotional distress and trauma.

The Client Services Specialist/Social Worker supervises a Re-Entry Coach, two MSW interns in the Client Services Division and any other staff members assisting with re-entry support. The CSS also coordinates directly with IPNO’s attorneys and investigators to identify additional client needs. Client Services provides assistance to clients freed or exonerated through our postconviction Innocence Program, as well as clients freed through our Unjust Punishment Project, which frees individuals given overly harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes.

As the supervisor of the Client Services division, the Specialist ensures we help our clients and their loved ones prepare mentally, emotionally and materially for release while our clients are still in prison, then helps them transition and navigate the daily challenges they may face upon release. The division also supports our dozens of clients who are already home. The struggle of adjusting to life outside prison after being freed has been described by some clients as harder than the struggle for their freedom inside prison. Such challenges may include finding secure and safe housing, getting connected to benefits and social services, reuniting and renegotiating family relationships after prison, financial fluency, learning technology, seeking medical and/or mental health evaluations and follow-up, counseling, and so much more.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Supervise all aspects of the Client Services Division and maintain accurate, complete records.
  • Interview clients to assess needs for social services, mental health treatment, and counseling. This may include trauma assessments and bio-psycho-social evaluations.
  • Gather and evaluate information relating to employment history and barriers to employment, housing situation, physical functioning and capacity for independent living.
  • Make referrals to agencies and other providers of medical/dental, mental health, counseling, educational and employment services as needed. Schedule client appointments, arrange transportation to appointments and advocate at all stages to successfully obtain needed services.
  • Develop service treatment plans as needed and monitor client progress toward delineated objectives.
  • Identify and provide effective, trauma-informed, acute crisis responses for our clients and their impacted family members. This may include referring clients to community resources and providers once crisis has been temporarily stabilized.
  • Work closely with families, friends and others in clients’ support networks.
  • Develop effective working relationships with external partners such as other re-entry organizations and community mental health providers.
  • Prepare reports to IPNO’s board of directors and funders, document client needs and status, and testify in court as needed. Maintain a detailed record of client data, services provided and outcomes. Prepare narrative and statistical reports.
  • Represent IPNO on external committees when appropriate and participate in community outreach activities.

IPNO is a small nonprofit so, in addition to their primary duties, the Client Services Specialist will be expected to assist as necessary with other aspects of IPNO’s work such as fundraising, public education and advocacy, special events, policy efforts, office administration, and post-release assistance of clients. IPNO is a client-focused office where teamwork and collaboration to ensure IPNO’s overall effectiveness and success are expected and valued.

Requirements for the Role

  • Must be a LMSW, LCSW, or equivalent.
  • Computer literacy, including experience using common office software such as Microsoft Office Suite.
  • The ability to communicate and work cooperatively with a wide range of people, including government personnel and officials, law enforcement, attorneys, records custodians, students, incarcerated individuals and their families, and other members of the community.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Strong oral advocacy skills.
  • Creative problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills and the ability to manage time and tasks on one’s own.
  • Ability to work in a team and receive constructive feedback.
  • Ability to effectively delegate to and supervise members of the division including the Re-Entry Coach, interns and volunteers.
  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Willingness to travel and work irregular hours as necessary.

Preferences for the Role

  • Existing ties to Louisiana.
  • Knowledge/experience concerning:
    • Louisiana’s criminal legal system.
    • Impact of race in the criminal legal system.
    • Mass incarceration

Salary and Benefits

The salary for this position $50,000 – $60,000 commensurate with applicant’s experience. IPNO offers a highly competitive and generous benefits package, including medical/dental/vision, six weeks of paid vacation, Federal holidays, 401k match, and monthly cell phone reimbursement. IPNO is a family and pet friendly workplace.

Start Date

Immediate. Applications will be accepted through August 7, 2021.

How to Apply

To apply, please e-mail a cover letter, resume, and three references to Do not call. Please include the job title in the e-mail subject line. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.

IPNO is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse work force reflective of the diverse communities we serve and support, with regard to race, culture, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, and caregiver status. IPNO works to advance racial justice and equity. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and legal system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.