Spring 2013 Legal Internship
ACLU - United States

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National Prison Project, Washington, DC

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), founded in 1920, is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with more than 500,000 members and is dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the U.S. Constitution. The National Prison Project of the ACLU’s National Office in Washington, D.C. seeks legal interns for the Spring of 2013.


Founded in 1972 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Prison Project (NPP) seeks to ensure constitutional conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and immigration detention facilities. It seeks to promote prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. NPP priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment, and increasing oversight and accountability in prisons, jails, and other places of detention. The Project also coordinates a nationwide network of litigators, conducts training and public education conferences, and provides expert advice and technical assistance to local community groups and lawyers throughout the country.

The Project also works to challenge the policies of over-incarceration that have led the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world. This is an opportune moment to reform such policies. There is a growing consensus among criminal justice experts and policymakers that America’s criminal justice system has relied too heavily on incarceration as the first and often only response for non-violent behavior that could better be addressed through other means. The population in American prisons and jails has tripled in the past 15 years and now approaches two and a half million. Facilities are overcrowded; medical systems are overwhelmed; work, education, and treatment programs are inadequate; and prison violence has increased. This failed experiment does not make us safer, it is not affordable, and it exacerbates the racial disparities that have long plagued the criminal justice system.

The Project, with a staff of seven lawyers, has fought and continues to fight unlawful prison conditions and practices through successful litigation on behalf of prisoners in more than 25 states. Since 1991, the Project has represented prisoners in five cases before the United States Supreme Court. It is the only organization litigating prison conditions of confinement nationwide on behalf of men, women, and juveniles. Currently, the Project represents over 50,000 prisoners housed in prisons and jails in 12 states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


The Spring 2013 Legal Internship requires a 12-16 week commitment. The internship is part-time, with weekly hours that are negotiable. Because this is an unpaid internship, students are highly encouraged to seek support for Public Interest Fellowship stipends. Arrangements can also be made with the student’s law school for work/study stipends or course credit.


Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the National Prison Project team. Interns will gain hands on experience in all aspects of litigation work including but not limited to:
  • Conducting research on prospects for new litigation, including both factual and legal claims.
  • Participating in discovery and motion practice.
  • Assisting in the drafting of motions and briefs.
  • Assisting with trials and appeals.


This legal internship is open to all law students. Applicants should possess:
  • Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, including internet research.
  • Demonstrated initiative to see projects through to completion.
  • Demonstrated interest in social justice and legal issues.
  • A strong interest and commitment to civil rights and civil liberties issues.

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The philosopher Socrates once said, "I am that gadfly which God has given the state." While the American Civil Liberties Union...