Just Detention International (JDI) is an international health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. JDI was founded in 1980 by a survivor of prisoner rape. In 2001, JDI transitioned from a volunteer-only to a staff-led organization. JDI has grown steadily for the past two decades and the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget is $3.7 million.
Forty years after its inception, JDI remains the only organization in the world dedicated to ending sexual violence in detention. With its headquarters in Los Angeles, JDI also has offices in Washington, DC, and Johannesburg, South Africa. Just Detention International-South Africa (JDI-SA) was established as an independent organization in 2013, building on the work JDI started there in 2005. The staff of JDI and JDI-SA operate as one team with a shared mission, but JDI-SA has its own Board of Trustees. JDI’s Executive Director supervises the Co-Directors of JDI-SA and serves on its Board.
All of JDI’s work is based on a fundamental belief that when the government takes away someone’s freedom, it takes on an obligation to keep that person safe. No matter what crime someone may have committed, rape is not part of the penalty. Contrary to pop-culture portrayals, sexual abuse in detention is not an inevitable byproduct of prison life. Rather, this violence is entirely preventable.
JDI played a key role in developing and securing passage of the U.S. Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003. The idea for this legislation was sparked by a letter sent by JDI’s then-President Tom Cahill to Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA). PREA was co-sponsored by leading Republicans and Democrats, all of whom worked closely with JDI. To this day, the effort to end sexual abuse in detention has maintained firm bipartisan support. JDI continues to have a strong presence on Capitol Hill, working on criminal justice legislation and appropriations and building alliances with members of Congress from across the political spectrum.
In some ways, JDI’s current work is encouragingly different from that of 15 years ago; in other ways, it is depressingly similar. Back then, many leading prison officials denied the problem of prisoner rape, describing it as a “cultural delusion.” Now, most corrections leaders recognize the magnitude of the crisis and want JDI’s help. As a result of PREA and JDI’s work, every year, hundreds of thousands of inmates are educated about their right to be safe, tens of thousands of officials receive PREA training, and thousands of officials are employed specifically to uphold their agencies’ zero-tolerance for sexual abuse. Yet, prisoner rape remains widespread, fueled by a toxic corrections culture, homophobia, misogyny, and routine dismissals of prisoners’ reports of abuse. JDI must maintain its momentum and sense of possibility in the fight to end this abuse.
JDI’s approach to criminal justice reform is as unique as its mission. JDI uses external and internal strategies simultaneously, self-identifying as a “helpful advocate.” JDI helps draft, fight for, and implement new legislation; works side-by-side with corrections officials inside prisons and jails to help change the culture of their facilities; provides prisoner rape survivors with individual support through a telephone hotline, letters, and face-to-face counseling; and, crucially, speaks out when corrections officials fail to uphold their responsibility to keep inmates safe. This multilayered approach sets JDI apart from other criminal justice reform organizations, and it requires JDI’s leader to be courageous, bold, and visionary, as well as able to build strong and honest alliances with unlikely allies.
This is an incredible opportunity to lead a thriving, financially stable, and inherently optimistic organization with an outsized reputation and tremendous impact. JDI’s staff are experienced and tenured and its Board of Directors is high functioning. JDI has a strong focus on staff retention and well-being and most senior staff members have been part of the organization for over a decade. JDI is known throughout the U.S. and internationally as the indisputable global leader in the effort to end sexual abuse in detention.
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will lead JDI through the next phase of its evolution and growth, guided by the organization’s 2017-2022 strategic plan. Responsibilities include:
- Personally exemplify JDI’s core values of integrity, respect for the inherent dignity of all people, and strong sense of possibility;
- Serve on JDI’s Board of Directors; manage the work of the Board and its five permanent Committees;
- Secure new and follow-up foundation grants, government contracts, and individual gifts;
- Formulate JDI’s long-term vision and set strategic goals;
- Manage a team of accomplished and committed professionals united by a common mission and vision across three offices spanning ten time zones;
- Provide leadership for all programs and initiatives;
- Develop organizational budgets and ensure sound fiscal policies and practices;
- Collaborate with federal and state policymakers, legislators, and corrections officials;
- Interact with prisoner rape survivors, ensure survivor participation in advocacy work;
- Serve as JDI’s primary spokesperson, conduct media interviews, and mobilize allied organizations.
Professional Requirements & Personal Characteristics
The ideal candidate will be a social justice thought leader who is strategic, forward-thinking, and nimble in identifying and responding to unexpected opportunities. The fight to end prisoner rape fits squarely within the “hard to fund” category of social justice issues. Therefore, the candidate must be a charismatic and compelling fundraiser with an ability to convey to potential donors why an investment in JDI is appealing and essential. The new Executive Director will also bring the following:
- Subject matter expertise in human rights, prisons, or other related field, consistent with JDI’s unique approach to criminal justice reform;
- Demonstrated success in nonprofit fundraising, including in developing and cultivating relationships with individual donors and institutional funders;
- Prior experience working closely with a nonprofit Board of Directors;
- Experience developing and influencing legislation and improving policies;
- Ability to work equally effectively with incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse and the corrections officials responsible for their safety;
- Demonstrated ability to work with allies across the political spectrum and achieve meaningful legislative outcomes;
- Media experience with a proven ability to distill complex issues into accessible language;
- Outstanding writing and excellent public speaking skills;
- Understanding of nonprofit fiscal structures and funding streams combined with strong business acumen;
- Experience managing a diverse staff, promoting and supporting their work-life balance and wellbeing;
- A bachelor’s degree is required; a relevant advanced degree is preferred.
A competitive salary will be offered to the preferred candidate, in addition to a generous benefits and vacation package.
Just Detention International’s headquarters is located in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, CA. All applicants must be willing to operate from JDI’s Los Angeles office.
Please submit cover letter and résumé as attachments via e-mail to:
Soladé Rowe, Senior Consultant or Joseph McCormack, Founding Partner
1740 Broadway, 15th Floor – New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212.531.5003 | Fax: 212.203.9599
All inquiries will be held in strict confidence. Education, dates of employment and other information will be verified prior to an offer.
JDI is an equal opportunity employer. People of color, LGBT people, and people with a history of incarceration are encouraged to apply.