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JOB OPENING: Seasoned Advocate with Clinical Background, University Legal Services

Monday, February 10, 2014


University Legal Services is a nonprofit legal organization that protects and advances the rights of people with disabilities through direct advocacy and systemic change. Part of our work includes preventing and redressing the abuse and neglect of incarcerated individuals with mental illness. Our goal is to reduce unnecessary periods of incarceration for DC residents with psychiatric disabilities/mental illness and remove barriers to their self-directed, successful integration into the community. We seek a tireless advocate with an educational and/or practical background in social work and a strong passion for advancing this mission.

The Reentry Advocate will provide secondary case management and advocacy support to people with diagnosed psychiatric disabilities at the DC Jail and Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) facilities in preparation for their reentry and for a defined period after they transition back into the community.  The Reentry Advocate's objective is to ensure our clients' needs are at the center of discharge planning and to advocate for community services that meet those needs. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

-  Coordinate discharge and treatment plans for adults (and youth charged as adults) with mental illness at the DC Jail and FBOP or recently released individuals living in the community and provide hands-on assistance connecting people with mental health agencies and identification, benefits, housing, and other reentry resources.

-  Negotiate and facilitate relationships between our clients and their service providers, probation and parole, and other community-based agencies. Model interpersonal communication skills and promote empowerment, independence and self-advocacy.

-  Maintain regular contact with individuals and use assertive engagement and advocacy strategies such as street outreach, transportation assistance, and family or peer involvement, when appropriate and permitted by the persons we serve.

-  Develop sentencing mitigation assessments and recommendations for alternatives to incarceration and present them at parole and court hearings.

-  Ensure DC JPAP staff members are informed of local and national mental health standards of care and the availability of local resources. Maintain and update the Project's resource library including documentation of correctional healthcare and public healthcare standards.

-  Conduct training for incarcerated individuals, their providers and advocates to expand their knowledge of the basics of mental health diagnoses, treatment delivery, local resources and best practices in the field.

-  Engage in systemic advocacy, including filing of grievances, meeting with public officials, and testifying before the DC Council.

Salary based on qualifications and related experience. Excellent benefits!


-  One of the following is required: MSW, MA, LICSW, or LPC, with an emphasis on mental health.

-  Required: Demonstrated commitment to recovery-based, self-directed mental health care.

-  Required: Comfort engaging in street outreach and working in correctional settings, shelters, community-based programs, and other locations accessible to our clients.

-  Required: Ability to communicate and work effectively as a proactive member of interdisciplinary team and to work independently. Demonstrated competence in verbal, written, organizational and problem solving skills, including the ability to troubleshoot challenging situations.

-  Preferred: Driver's license and access to a car for local travel.

-  Preferred: Experience working within a social justice/civil rights organization, criminal defense law office, or organization serving homeless or incarcerated individuals.

-  Preferred: Background or previous training in trauma-informed care or trauma-specific interventions, motivational interviewing, and integrated co-occurring disorder treatment.

-  Preferred:  Personal history of incarceration or history of use of mental health services.


Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.  We encourage submission of applications prior to March 1, 2014. Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and a list of references to:

Tammy Seltzer, Director
DC Jail Advocacy Project
University Legal Services
220 I St NE, Suite 130
Washington DC 20002
Fax: 202-547-2662

ULS values diversity of culture, disability and other life experiences, and is an equal opportunity employer by choice. People with personal experience in the criminal justice system are welcome and encouraged to apply.

Please visit our website at to learn more about our program activities and priorities.

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