Policy Analyst - Disability and Incarceration


Access Living is pleased to announce that the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge awarded a grant to build disability work focused on reducing jail incarceration. During this two year period, Access Living will convene county-level and national working groups to look at problems and solutions for reducing jail incarceration for people with disabilities, from a cross-disability standpoint. This project will also produce issue briefs highlighting key points of potential strategic impact in this area.

This two year project is based on the work done during Access Living’s initial one-year implementation phase, during which we produced a paper focused on a cross-disability look at reducing jail incarceration.

The staffer for this project will be responsible for supporting and facilitating the work groups; serving as primary lead in producing issue briefs; and continuing Access Living’s work to interview and record the stories of disabled people who have experienced jail incarceration. The project staffer will also partner with Access Living’s existing disability/racial justice efforts as led by our Racial Justice organizer and other staff, as well as with our Communications Department.

The Disability and Incarceration Policy Analyst’s primary responsibilities include the following:

  • Build and facilitate two working groups of stakeholders interested in reducing jail incarceration of people with disabilities; one for national stakeholders, the other for county-level stakeholders.
  • With the stakeholders’ guidance and support, develop issue briefs to highlight key strategic opportunities to reduce jail incarceration of people with disabilities. Engage in briefing stakeholders on the topics involved.
  • Monitor and stay abreast of best practices for reducing jail incarceration of people with disabilities, from a cross-disability and intersectional standpoint.
  • Build Access Living’s collection of interviews with disabled people who have experienced jail incarceration.
  • Connect with advocates, visit jails around the state and in other states, attend MacArthur’s Safety and Justice Challenge network meetings, and engage in information sharing about the situation of people with disabilities in the criminal justice system on the Safety and Justice Challenge Exchange.
  • Collaborate with Access Living’s Racial Justice Organizer and other staff engaged on restorative justice, disability law and other related topics.
  • Collaborate with Access Living’s Communications Department on issue brief design and dissemination, media engagement, and highlighting the stories of disabled people who have been incarcerated in jail.
  • Produce public comment or testimony, or education on jail incarceration of people with disabilities, to policymakers as needed
  • Ensure internal accountability is met, such as data entry and quarterly reports.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Education and Training:

  • 3+ years of experience in policy research and production of papers/articles for public dissemination
  • Experience providing general project support, such as activity tracking, task coordination, and document formatting, in a deadline-oriented environment
  • Demonstrated experience in coordinating collaborative groups, both in person and remotely, particularly through a task force/planning lens
  • Experience interviewing people for the purpose of research
  • Demonstrated expertise and interest in the criminal justice system, especially as it operates in Cook County, Illinois
  • Demonstrated expertise and interest in oppression facing people with disabilities belonging to marginalized groups such as people of color, people who are LGBTQIA*, immigrants, and others.
  • Preferred – understanding of Independent Living Philosophy, disability justice, criminal justice reform and restorative justice, complex topics in inclusion
  • Comfort with public presentations to a variety of audiences.
  • Experience conducting/writing literature reviews and writing annotated summaries of research. Experience with qualitative and/or quantitative research methods and analysis, including familiarity with data analysis tools.
  • Advanced proficiency in MS Office Applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Physical Demands

Ability to travel locally and nationally

Equipment Operated:

Computers, copier, fax, scanner

Working Environment:

Access Living’s shared office space

Supervised By:

Director of Advocacy

How to Apply:

Applicants should send cover letter, resume/CV, and no more than 10 pages of a writing sample preferably related to this position. Materials should be sent to careers@accessliving.org.  

Access Living values a diverse workplace and strongly encourages people with disabilities, women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, members of ethnic minorities, foreign-born residents, and veterans to apply.

Access Living is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will not be discriminated against because of disability, race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, citizenship status, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition or any protected category prohibited by local, state or federal laws.