Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) Position Announcement
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 36 innocent people who have spent more than 873 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.
The Re-Entry Coach provides support to clients transitioning out of prison. This person will be working with both exonerated and freed individuals in our Innocence Program, as well as clients sentenced to excessive sentences for drug crimes who are freed through our Unjust Punishment Program.
The Coach is a person who was formerly incarcerated and now uses their knowledge of the criminal legal system to inform this work, while centering the differing needs of individual clients.
The Coach helps clients recognize both barriers and opportunities in their lives, and works to collaboratively develop plans to achieve the client’s goals. The Coach will also be the lead mentor for IPNO’s Transitional House, where up to two recently returned clients are supported. This role will include organizing and leading group meetings, developing peer mentors, and working closely with the Client Services Specialist to coordinate needs such as long term housing, employment, medical care, mental health, and family relationships.
The Coach reports to and works closely with the Client Services Specialist, who is a social worker, to provide excellent case management services to all clients regardless of how long they have been home. The Coach should expect to actively work with 10-15 clients, with an understanding that the level of clients’ needs varies over time.
Staff are currently working remotely. The physical office is located in Mid City, New Orleans. This position will require travel once it is safe to do so; IPNO has a shared office car which the Coach may use to help clients get to appointments, manage day-to-day needs at the Transitional House in Algiers, and conduct longer trips to check in on clients living outside of New Orleans.
• One-on-one case management with individual released clients. For example, going to appointments, job and housing searches, identifying goals and collaboratively creating realistic step-by-step plans to achieve those goals.
• Coordinating group meetings and activities. These will be in-person when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
• Providing mentorship at the Transitional House, including ensuring physical and emotional safety for residents by establishing reasonable boundaries and collaborative decision-making.
• Day-to-day handling of freed clients’ requests for assistance, and objectively prioritizing requests.
• Identifying unmet needs and potential opportunities for freed clients, including trades, GEDs, college programs, and other educational options.
• Spotting potential roadblocks in clients’ transitional plans and working with clients on how they will overcome those barriers.
• Leading group and/or individual sessions on identified needs, such as job interview best practices, managing relationships, and other topics as decided by the Coach and clients.
• Encouraging clients to consider counseling or other mental health assistance when needed; make this process as easy as possible by coordinating transport, answering questions, providing information.
• Writing, or assisting with, formal re-entry plans to present to courts, DA offices, and other decision makers to support efforts to free incarcerated clients.
• IPNO is a small nonprofit organization so, in addition to their primary duties, the Re-Entry Coach will be expected to assist as necessary with other aspects of IPNO’s work such as public education and advocacy, policy efforts, office administration and operations, and events. 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:
• Experience as a participant and/or mentor in a structured re-entry program.
• Good organizational skills, and the ability to maintain electronic case records.
• Leading with kindness; recognizing ways that some behaviors might be defense mechanisms or responses to trauma, and working with the Client Services Specialist to ensure programs are trauma-informed.
• Genuine interest in helping clients succeed.
• Creative problem-solving skills.
• Understands the importance of confidentiality and will keep case, client and other work-related information confidential.
• Strong listening and communication skills.
• Ability and willingness to work with a wide range of individuals with different life experiences.
• Good writing skills and the ability to electronically write formal memos, case notes, and re-entry plans.
• Ability and willingness to represent IPNO at public events and in collaborating with other agencies.
• Willingness to work evenings and weekend when needed.
• Valid, current driver’s license.
Helpful, but not required:
• Personal vehicle (for which IPNO fully reimburses work-related mileage and travel expenses).
• Formal education in fields like social work, psychology, counseling.
• Spanish language skills.
Salary and benefits:
The salary for this position is $35,000-40,000 commensurate with applicant’s experience. IPNO offers a highly competitive and generous benefits package, including medical/dental/vision, five weeks of paid vacation, Federal holidays, 401k match, and monthly cell phone reimbursement. IPNO provides a work environment that encourages health and self-care. IPNO is a family and pet friendly workplace.
Immediate. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
How to Apply:
To apply, please e-mail a cover letter, resume, three references, and a writing sample (1-3 pages, no longer than 5 pages) to ipnoOpenings@ip-no.org. 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.