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Jessica Wolfe

2016, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Jessica Wolfe

Jessica Wolfe

Name of Host Organization: American Civil Liberties Union of Washington
City, State: Seattle, Washington
Issue area: Prisoners' Rights
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Jessica will work to reduce the population of pretrial detainees with mental illness in Washington State jails through documentation, strategic litigation, and advocacy designed to break the cycle of recidivism and encourage community-based treatment.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
In Washington State, thousands suffering from mental illness are warehoused in local county jails. Many are incarcerated because of behaviors clearly attributable to their illness. Additionally, the mental health of incarcerated people deteriorates as the conditions of confinement exacerbate mental illness. Those suffering from mental illness are often released into the community untreated, contributing to a cycle of recidivism and a “revolving door” of incarceration.
The Right Person For This Project
Jessica is the right person for the project because:
• She was motivated to pursue criminal justice reform and disability rights after witnessing the destructive impact of incarceration and mental illness on her community.
• Prior to law school, she reported on prison conditions, gaining skills that will now enable her to collect and marshal evidence for impact litigation.
• In law school, she volunteered with legal organizations that advocate for prisoners’ rights