Fair Sentencing for Youth




Working to End the Practice of Trying Youth as Adults in California

Youth Promise Policy Fellowship Description
A broad range of organizations is working to end the practice of trying children as adults in California. Four summer fellows will be employed by community-based organizations in diverse areas of the state. The fellows will lead public education and awareness-raising campaigns about the practice of prosecuting youth as adults. People who had experience with the juvenile or criminal system for crimes that occurred when they were under 18 are encouraged to apply.

There is a growing awareness of the need to give young people a real chance in life, and that harsh adult prison sentences are harmful not only to youth but society as a whole. Advocates across the state are working to roll back laws allowing transfer of youth to adult court. It is necessary to build public support for this important change. That is where you come in. The Youth Promise Policy Fellowships will rely on the expertise and compelling perspective of young people who were in the juvenile or adult system for serious crimes that occurred under the age of 18. The fellows will be employed by local nonprofit, community-based organizations that work on youth justice-related issues.  

The fellows will use a variety of education and awareness-raising methods to inform the general public about why trying youth as adults is wrong, create awareness of alternatives to this practice, and build support for change. Activities could include: Speaking at civic and religious organizations, colleges, and community settings; holding town halls; participating in community events, festivals, fairs, and other gatherings; meeting with key community stakeholders; developing educational materials; speaking to media; generating social media; etc. The fellows may also work with the sponsoring community organization on some of its related priorities. At the end of the summer each fellow will write a summary of their activities and analyze the effect of their work in the community.

Exact locations are to be determined. The following counties are priorities, but other locations will be considered, depending on the best applicants: Contra Costa, Fresno, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and San Joaquin.

Payment and Supervision

  • The fellowship is full time for up to 12 weeks, with payment of $15 per hour, for a total of $7,200 for a 12-week period.
  • Fellows will be employed and supervised by the community-based organization.
  • Fellows will additionally meet regularly by phone with an advisory committee of policy experts from groups such as Human Rights Watch, the National Center for Youth Law, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and others.


  • Applicants should be students in community college, tech/trade school, a four-year college, or university;
  • Successful applicants will be well-organized, self-motivated, creative thinkers, with demonstrated initiative and reliability;
  • Willingness to speak about personal experience with juvenile or criminal court involvement for serious crimes occurring prior to the age of 18 is highly desirable because it will ensure fellows are effective messengers who can convey knowledge about the system;
  • Experience in community organizing, leadership positions, public speaking, or advocacy is preferred;
  • Computer skills (i.e., MS Word, MS Excel, internet applications) are required and experience with graphic design, web design, social media, and online communication tools is a plus; and
  • Reliable transportation is required.

How to Apply
Please apply immediately by sending a brief letter of interest and resume to ecalvin@hrw.org.  All application materials should be sent as an attachment in a PDF or Word document. Please use “Policy Fellowship Application – Summer 2018” as the subject of your email. Only complete applications will be reviewed. 

Questions? Please call Elizabeth Calvin at Human Rights Watch, 310-477-5540.

First applications will be considered the week of May 7th, 2018.