Program Officer - Criminal Justice Reform

Based in New York, the Program Officer will work with the Managing Attorney and Program Director (Criminal Justice Reform) and lead the organization’s efforts in New York to reduce pretrial incarceration through policy reform, campaigns, and innovative disruptions. As a core member of the organization’s Criminal Justice Reform team, the Program Officer will also serve as a key adviser to similar activities throughout the United States.

The ideal candidate will have deep knowledge of and experience working in the criminal legal system in the United States -- in particular with issues of pretrial incarceration and money bail in New York -- as well as demonstrated ability to build and maintain strategic partnerships supporting grassroots and community-led initiatives. The ideal candidate will also be hard-working, a fast learner, proactive, able to juggle multiple tasks, and able to work well in a collaborative environment. Previous experience as a Public Defender and/or community organizer is preferred. People directly impacted by the criminal legal system are especially encouraged to apply, as they would bring additional value to the role and organization.

Major Responsibilities:

  • Develop and maintain partnerships with local communities, organizers, bail funds, and campaigns, and identify high-impact cases for bold, strategic interventions in collaboration with community partners
  • Lead RFKHR’s engagement on legislative and policy reform in New York at the city and state level
  • Design and track impact of RFKHR’s engagement for use in advocacy and awareness initiatives
  • Support advocacy and other legal efforts to reduce pretrial incarceration through the collection and documentation of personal stories and data
  • Development and management of digital tools to facilitate on- and off-line organizing and crowdfunded actions
  • Work with RFKHR team to design and implement strategic support for bail funds and bail out actions
  • Domestic travel up to 25% of time may be required


  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and passion to create a legal system that promotes equality and freedom
  • Minimum of 4 years experience working in the criminal legal system or on criminal justice reform efforts with individuals and communities directly impacted by mass incarceration is required
  • J.D. or commensurate level of understanding of/ability to navigate technical legal issues of pretrial incarceration is required; experience with NY-specific law and policy is preferred
  • Proven ability to take initiative, establish priorities, work independently, self-motivate, and proceed with objectives with minimal supervision
  • Innovative thinking, an unwillingness to accept things as they are, and a strong work ethic are essential
  • Storytelling and campaign experience preferred
  • Must have a high level of integrity and discretion in handling all confidential information
  • Professional-level Spanish language ability and knowledge of US immigration system are a plus

Application Process:

  • Submit resume and cover letter to with “Your Name + Criminal Justice Reform” in the subject heading.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, from diverse backgrounds, and with a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer.