Senior Policy Counsel

About the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth:

The United States treats children who come into conflict with the law in intensely cruel and inhuman ways, disregarding their youth status and differences from adults. This is evidenced most starkly by the fact that the US is the only country that sentences children to die in prison by imposing life-without-parole sentences, which fly in the face of the emotional, behavioral, and developmental characteristics of youth respected wisely by other policies. Focusing on reforming this harsh practice in turn serves to catalyze other reforms to a system that is overly punitive across the board, especially when it comes to children.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, leads the movement to end the most extreme sentences for children, advances alternative responses to harm children cause, and creates opportunities for formerly incarcerated youth to thrive as adults and lead in their communities. We seek to ban extreme sentences for children under 18 and ensure policies are implemented meaningfully and equitably; create opportunities for formerly incarcerated youth to thrive and for community restoration; and build a broad-based movement for reform led by directly impacted individuals.

Overview of the Position:

Lead Legislative Campaigns

Lead the organization’s on-the-ground legislative advocacy to end extreme sentences for children in 2-3 states per legislative session.

  • Evaluate opportunities for reform
  • Develop relationships with legislative champions
  • Draft legislation and amendments
  • Build relationships with legislators, including lobbying committee and leadership
  • Build relationships with prosecutors, Parole Board, Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, etc.
  • Build relationships with coalition member organizations, including formerly incarcerated youth, family members of incarcerated individuals, defense community, faith community, victims’ advocates, etc.
  • Partner with the Communications Department to increase public awareness and encourage on positive media coverage
  • Testify at committee hearings and coordinate testimony of other supporters
  • Negotiate with prosecutors, legislators, and opponents as needed
  • Ensure compliance with local lobbying laws

Support Legislative Campaigns

Support legislative advocacy to end extreme sentences for children in states with locally led campaigns and in states with CFSY long-term advocacy goals.

  • Support local advocates, family members of incarcerated individuals, and formerly incarcerated youth with technical assistance as to legislation, strategy toward bill passage, advocacy tools and trainings, etc.

Build Long-Term Advocacy Capacity of Directly Impacted Partners

Consistent with CFSY’s belief that reform should be led by individuals and communities directly impacted by the injustices we work to resolve—chief among them, individuals incarcerated as children for serious crimes, survivors of crimes committed by children, and the families of both—the Senior Policy Counsel will build legislative advocacy skills and capacity among directly impacted partners.

  • Identify opportunities to train directly impacted communities in legislative advocacy skills and strategy
  • Partner with Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (“ICAN”), a project of CFSY, to identify legislative priorities
  • Support ICAN in developing and coordinating lobby days at state capitals for directly impacted local partners

Educate Legislators

Among state legislators, raise the profile of extreme sentencing of children and national policy trends to serve as a catalyst for future legislative reform.

  • Cultivate elected officials to attend the CFSY National Convening
  • Identify opportunities to educate and grow network of state legislators (g., NCSL)


Ensure meaningful assessment and tracking of legislative advancements.

  • Track legislation occurring nationally to end extreme sentencing for children
  • Convey legislative trends to CFSY staff to promote common understanding of national advancements and challenges

Maintain subject matter expertise and serve as external-facing expert on legislative trends in extreme sentencing of youth.

  • Partner with the Communications Department to develop strategic messaging around legislative trends
  • Participate in media interviews as requested

 National Thought Leader

Serve as a thought leader on the issue of extreme sentencing for youth and leverage national opportunities to support positive reform.

  • Offer testimony to bodies such as the U.S. Sentencing Commission, United Nations Special Rapporteur, etc. as appropriate
  • Leverage opportunities to participate in national conversation about youth sentencing, such as through the United Nations Consultative Status, American Law Institute, etc.
  • Participate in national coalition meetings, such as the Justice Roundtable State Issues Working Group


  • J.D. preferred
  • 5-10 years of relevant experience

Core Competencies:

  • Demonstrated track record in running effective legislative campaigns
  • Committed to the leadership of directly impacted partners to achieve meaningful systems change
  • Self-motivated and creative
  • Strategic thinker and strategist
  • Organized and able to juggle competing priorities
  • Personable and persuasive – with a demonstrated ability to build bi-partisan coalitions
  • Excellent communicator – good oral and written communication skills; honest and straightforward with questions and ideas
  • Constructive and optimistic – confronts problems with the expectation that a solution exists
  • Sense of humor
  • Belief that our society has failed the children impacted by life without parole and other extreme sentences, and that we all have a responsibility to create avenues for their restoration and that of our entire community
  • Belief that the over-punishment of youth in the United States is a racial justice issue


The Campaign offers a competitive wage for this position, as well as a generous benefits package, including vacation, sabbatical, employer-paid premiums for a platinum individual health insurance plan, including vision and dental, life and disability insurance, and a 403(b) retirement plan.

 To apply:

Email in a single attachment: a letter of interest, resume, names of and contact information for at least three references, and a brief, original, unedited writing sample to in PDF format. Use “Senior Policy Counsel” as the subject of your email. Only complete applications will be reviewed. Applications will be received on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until filled. No phone calls.

The CFSY is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. People of color, individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and those with personal experience in the juvenile or criminal justice systems are strongly encouraged to apply.

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