Criminal Justice Investigator - One-year position

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organization, dedicated to defending and enhancing personal freedoms protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy, communications, and organizing. It is a fast-paced environment that addresses headline-making issues with powerful personal stories and dynamic, precedent-setting solutions. The ACLU-PA has three offices, ten volunteer chapters, over 40,000 members and donors, more than 30 full-time employees, and a $5.3 million operating budget.

ACLU-PA seeks applications for a criminal justice investigator to assist with gathering information and data related to criminal courts, probation departments, and other criminal justice agencies to further the organization’s policy goals around criminal justice reform.  The position is for one year and based in the ACLU-PA’s Philadelphia office but will require weekly regular travel to counties across the state, including overnight travel.

The ACLU-PA increasingly advances its work by using an integrated advocacy model, which involves utilizing all of the ACLU-PA’s varied resources and strategies – litigation, advocacy, lobbying, policy initiatives, communication strategies, community organizing, and public education – to most effectively achieve specific civil liberties goals. The investigator will be at the center of the ACLU-PA’s integrated advocacy work and will work closely with the advocacy and legal departments. The investigator will be supervised by the criminal justice policy counsel.

Job Responsibilities:

The person in this position will conduct court watching and gather observational data from criminal courts in multiple counties including, but not limited to Allegheny, Montgomery, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties. The investigator will also recruit and train volunteers to do additional court watching. The investigator will interview prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, prison employees, those who are incarcerated, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

The investigator’s work product will include memoranda, reports, data analysis, and more. They will assist in legal advocacy, policy initiatives, campaigns, public advocacy, and possibly litigation.

Individuals with personal experience in the criminal justice system and those who have been formerly incarcerated are encouraged to apply.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Gather observational data through extensive court watching and personal interviews with those directly impacted.

  • Analyze and systematize this observational data to support the criminal justice reform team.

  • Draft regular reports detailing the findings of the investigations to inform the work of the criminal justice team.

  • Draft, file, and follow-up on requests for public documents under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know law. This will require extensive communication with multiple government agencies. Requests may be aimed at understanding the policies and practices of such criminal justice actors as police, sheriffs, courts, jails and prisons, as well as the application of those policies to the cases of specific individuals.

  • Gather raw data (through the Right to Know law, publicly available datasets, and other sources), conduct preliminary analysis and, when necessary, work with experts (consultants) to analyze data for inclusion in memoranda and reports. Analysis may range from factual summaries regarding specific individuals to reports describing patterns of civil liberties violations, to the creation of spreadsheets reflecting data collected.

  • Help devise ACLU-PA strategy for investigating and addressing the identified issues.

  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Thorough knowledge of the criminal justice system

  • One or more of the following:

  • minimum of two years’ experience in research and investigation;

  • experience representing or working on behalf of indigent individuals;

  • Excellent interviewing skills, including the ability to connect and interact with people from all walks of life;

  • Excellent writing, verbal, analytical, and interpersonal skills;

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team, often under pressure and short deadlines;

  • Ability to keep organized in a fast-paced environment, manage several projects simultaneously, and adjust to frequently changing demands;

  • Creative, flexible, results-oriented, self-starter, who is willing to learn;

  • A demonstrated commitment to criminal justice reform and civil rights, as well as to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance;

  • Strong facility with Excel and GSuite;

  • Experience with data collection, management, and analysis.

Compensation and Benefits:

Salary is $60,000 annually and within the parameters of the ACLU-PA compensation scale.

Excellent benefits include generous vacation and sick leave; individual/family employer-provided health insurance; life insurance and long-term disability; defined contribution plan with employer match; and 10 paid holidays. This position is full-time, salaried, and exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

To Apply:

All applications are treated confidentially. Interested candidates should send a letter of application, resume, and a writing sample to Please include the job title in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed beginning May 16. Once the position is filled, the job announcement will be removed from our website:

The ACLU of Pennsylvania is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and values a diverse workforce and inclusive culture. We encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.  We also encourage those with personal experience in the criminal justice system and those who have been formerly incarcerated to apply.

The ACLU-PA comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union (the “Union”) of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation (the “Foundation”) of Pennsylvania. The Union is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, and ACLU membership dues fund its lobbying work. Donations to the Union are not tax-deductible. The ACLU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Foundation funds support litigation and public education efforts. Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible. The criminal justice investigator is an employee of both the Foundation and Union.

Both the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania have the same overall mission, and share office space, employees, and the same board of directors. The two entities are jointly known by the term “ACLU of Pennsylvania.”

ACLU-PA’s hiring process will comply with Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (“Ban the Box”) ordinance.


WebSanity Top Secret