Open Society Foundations Announce 2021 Soros Justice Fellows
NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations today announced an award of $1.5 million to the 2021 cohort of Soros Justice Fellows. The fellows, a mix of emerging and established leaders, include documentary filmmakers, lawyers, grassroots organizers, policy advocates, journalists, and authors.
Working across the United States, the 17 fellows will take on a range of issues at the core of the Open Society’s work such as mass incarceration, surveillance, immigration, asylum, and police violence to ensure accountability in the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Our criminal justice system has long been in crisis,” said Tom Perriello, executive director of Open Society-U.S. “We are proud to work with the 2021 class of Soros Justice Fellows, who will add new and fresh ideas, leadership, and creativity to a conversation that this country is currently grappling with across the board.”
The new fellows include: a policy advocate who will support the healing of children harmed by detention and deportation; a formerly incarcerated individual who will build a coalition to raise awareness of the discrimination facing women living with violent convictions; a podcaster who will report on the troubling story of how communities are impacted by far-right and paramilitary-aligned sheriffs; a filmmaker who will make a documentary on the ways in which the U.S.’s system of “punishment as justice” perpetuates cycles of harm; a media-maker who will focus on foster care and the juvenile justice system; an author who examines inequality in America through the prism of sex work; and a journalist who will explore the nexus between gentrification and overpolicing.
“Given the enormous challenges we’re facing in our country today, we look forward to the ideas and vision of the 2021 Soros Justice Fellows who are working to produce an effective and fair justice system,” said Christina Voight, program operations officer at Open Society-U.S. “We welcome such a talented group at such a crucial moment in history.”
To carry out their work, fellows receive a stipend ranging from $57,500 to $127,500 for full-time projects lasting between 12 and 18 months.
The 2021 fellows join over 400 other individuals who, since 1997, have received support through the Soros Justice Fellowships as part of a broader effort to curb mass incarceration and ensure a fair and equitable system of justice in the United States.
2021 Soros Justice Fellows
Lis-Marie Alvarado will use arts-based organizing and cultural healing to work with unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America harmed by detention.
Tiheba Bain will build a coalition of diverse women, who will use their voices and lived experiences to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by women living with violent convictions.
Willette Benford will create the Cost of Dignity Project, which will support and elevate the leadership of Black women impacted by the criminal legal system.
Carlos Alejandro Bracamontes Norzagaray will empower members of the refugee community to become fully-accredited Department of Justice representatives and provide free representation in immigration proceedings in the Boston area.
Cloee Cooper will develop a deeply reported podcast on how communities are impacted by far-right and paramilitary-aligned sheriffs.
Monica Cosby will create a network of women impacted by the criminal legal system to help challenge the harmful narratives surrounding the dichotomy of violent and nonviolent crime in that system and in society at large.
May Jeong will write a book, The Life: Sex, Work and Love in America, that examines inequality in America through the prism of sex work.
Yusef Presley will produce a series of short videos that seek to elevate the voices and experiences of youth directly impacted by the foster care and juvenile justice systems in Kansas.
PJ Raval will produce In Plain Sight, a docuseries that will reframe the immigrant experience and culture of incarceration, through an exploration of the lives of artists working to resist the migrant detention system.
Leidy Perez-Davis will help elevate the voices of a network led by asylum seekers and support members to collectively identify the best methods to end the punitive practices and incarceration of asylum seekers.
Veronica Torres will work to vindicate the rights of the hundreds of people in Arizona prisons who have a viable claim for parole or opportunity for release.
Ashley Torres Carrasquillo will establish a project that seeks to counter the levels of violence and poverty experienced by mainly Black, disabled, and LGBTQ+ youth in public housing in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Emily Tucker will educate the public about the harm caused by replacing mass incarceration with mass surveillance, and support efforts to challenge the negative impacts of mass surveillance on peoples’ lives.
Lam Thuy Vo will write articles that explore the nexus between gentrification and overpolicing, each centered around characters and communities whose stories are contextualized through data- and documents-driven research.
Kilroy Watkins will create an initiative, Freedom School, to support survivors of police torture and long-term incarceration in their efforts to productively make their way into free society.