Brutality Project Paralegal – PLS

General Position Description

Prisoners’ Legal Services (PLS) is seeking an outstanding full-time Brutality Paralegal to combat staff-on-prisoner assaults in Massachusetts prisons and jails. PLS has two intersecting projects that focus on this problem, the Prison Brutality Project and Rapid Response to Brutality Project. Both projects are currently undergoing restructuring/reframing and we are focused on developing new strategies and procedures to achieve the project’s goals. This paralegal will work through those projects to deter staff-on-prisoner assaults, to advocate for and provide legal assistance to impacted prisoners, and to increase community awareness of this problem.  The paralegal will meet with some injured prisoners within 72 hours of report, to interview and photograph them, collect documents, and give legal advice about the client’s rights.  After the visit, the paralegal will conduct follow-up advocacy, primarily regarding preservation of evidence and any unmet medical needs from the assault. In those cases that meet the criteria to be considered for litigation, the paralegal will also investigate the prisoners’ claims by gathering records generated by the prison or jail in relation to the incident, as well as conduct witness interviews. The paralegal, Brutality Project Director, and other PLS staff will evaluate completed investigations to determine whether there is sufficient proof to merit litigation.    Meritorious cases are litigated, when resources allow, by PLS attorneys or, if possible, the cases are referred to private attorneys.

Responsibilities

The Brutality Paralegal serves as the PLS expert on what is happening with staff-on-prisoner brutality in the MA prison system and is the go-to person for answers about brutality trends and policies. This position is full-time and supervised by the Brutality Project Director. Responsibilities for this position will include: 

  • Taking telephone calls and reading mail reporting staff assaults on prisoners,
  • Reviewing and evaluating reported incidents to determine if they warrant investigation;
  • Traveling to state prisons and county jails in Massachusetts to meet with clients;
  • Interviewing clients who have been assaulted by staff at state prisons and county jails in Massachusetts, including photographing their injuries and any other necessary documentation of available evidence;
  • Investigating new and ongoing staff assault intakes, tracking all investigations and ensuring they are completed in as timely a manner as possible;
  • Advocating for clients in new and ongoing staff assault cases;
  • Meeting with and interviewing prisoner witnesses to assaults at Massachusetts state prisons or jails;
  • Counseling clients about their legal rights relating to the assault and keeping them apprised about developments in their case;
  • Creating and maintaining client files and keeping databases updated for all staff assault cases;
  • Tracking all brutality litigation within the PLS office and referred out to private counsel;
  • Assisting in planning regularly scheduled brutality project meetings;
  • Preparing and presenting summaries of investigated cases at brutality project meetings for litigation consideration, and completing all necessary follow up;
  • Conducting legal research, working on brutality focused projects, assisting in brutality litigation/casework, and assisting in brutality case referrals;
  • Assisting in improving systems and standard operating procedures;
  • Heavy involvement in developing new strategies to achieve the project’s goals, including potential media outreach, coalition building/community organizing, and legislative/policy support;
  • Assisting in supervising student interns and volunteers on brutality work;
  • Participating in monthly PLS staff meetings and regular supervision meetings with the Brutality Project Director;
  • Working cooperatively with clients, PLS brutality team members, and private counsel;
  • Compiling statistics for brutality grant writing and reporting;
  • All other tasks as assigned by the Brutality Project Director or Executive Director.

Additional Qualifications

  • Must be comfortable having frequent contact with prisoner clients through in-person visits, telephone, and letter communication. (Spanish speakers are strongly encouraged to apply).
  • Organizational and administrative skills are required.
  • Frequent travel to Massachusetts prisons and jails is required. Applicants must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Regular access to a reliable vehicle is preferred.
  • Ability to work both independently and cooperatively with a team is required.
  • Ability to speak and write in Spanish is strongly preferred.
  • Experience working with and advocating for marginalized populations is preferred.
  • Sensitivity to issues and concerns of communities of color and other diverse groups is required.
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills are required.
  • Attention to detail is required.
  • Applicants will be asked to demonstrate professional writing skills by drafting a letter at the time of the interview.

What To Expect When You Join Our Team

You can expect to work with a team of amazing people who have tenacity and are committed to getting the work done. Why? Because our work is urgent, impactful, and more important than ever. You can count on doing solutions-oriented and policy-driven work. You will have excellent benefits you can’t turn down and a great work-life balance. Driving meaningful change is hard work. We value the importance of self-care and also know that you have a life, places to go, and people to see.

Benefits and Salary

This is a full-time position, requiring 35 hours per week. PLS offers a very competitive salary within the legal services field and commensurate with experience. We offer a comprehensive compensation package with 12 paid holidays, a minimum of 16 paid vacation days, 12 sick days, and 4 personal days each year, as well as paid parental and family medical leave benefits and a partially-paid sabbatical every 7 years. We pay 100% of employee premiums for excellent health, vision, and  dental benefits plus 100% of the out-of-pocket deductible. We also offer a 401(k)  retirement benefit with employer contribution, disability and life insurance, and a student loan repayment assistance program. Flex time or other alternative arrangements considered. PLS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and two references in a single email to lrydzewski@plsma.orgwith the subject line “Brutality Project Paralegal” as soon as possible. Interviews will take place on a rolling basis until the position is filled. No phone calls or mail inquiries please.

Candidates of color, Bicultural candidates, Bilingual candidates, LGBTQ candidates, and candidates with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.