Senior Planner, Bail Reform - NYC/LA/DC/NOLA/Remote

Location: New York, NY

Department: Executive

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Mid Level

This position can be based out of our NY, DC, Los Angeles, or New Orleans offices, or remotely. Please note that our New York office will be relocating to Industry City in Brooklyn starting from September.


Who we are

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, envisions a society that respects the dignity of every single person and safeguards justice for everyone. Our priorities are to secure equal justice, end mass incarceration, and strengthen families and communities around the country.

We do this by:

  • Studying problems that impede human dignity and justice.
  • Piloting solutions that are at once transformative and achievable.
  • Engaging diverse communities in informed debate.
  • Harnessing the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice.


We work with others who share our vision to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. Vera has a staff of over 250 people and offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. We are an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace—specifically, we value a range of experiences in people’s educational backgrounds and encourage people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system to apply. We hire employees that reflect our values: respect, independence, collaboration, and commitment. 


Vera’s work on bail reform

We are looking for a senior planner to develop and coordinate our growing portfolio of national work on bail reform.


Vera has a long history of working on bail-related initiatives: from the Manhattan Bail Project, launched in 1961, as the first-ever pretrial reform effort in the country to increase the use of release on recognizance and decrease reliance on money bail; to a decade of work in New Orleans that launched a pretrial services program and created a roadmap for the elimination of money bail; our work over the past four years in New York providing technical assistance, training, and research on pretrial reforms, and playing a key role in the historic bail legislation passed in Albany earlier this year; and bail-related technical assistance in other jurisdictions as part of our jail reduction work.


Our vision is a pretrial justice system where pretrial release is the default and detention the “carefully limited exception” as prescribed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Salerno. We are committed to ending racial disparity in the criminal justice system and the role of money in determining people’s freedom.


What you’ll be working on

As more cities, counties, and states look to tackle bail reform—as a result of litigation, advocacy and public pressure, or simply because it’s the right thing to do—they turn to places like Vera for help. The issue of bail reform appears deceptively simple. For years, the rallying cry for bail reform has been to end money bail, an outcome we strongly support. But we’ve learned that eliminating money alone will not produce the kinds of transformative reforms that result in more public safety, better life and case outcomes for people in the system, and the use of jail as a last resort. We need to be creative and unrelentingly nuanced when it comes to issues of pretrial supervision, risk assessment, “ability to pay,” and other considerations that arise as a result of bail reform. Vera’s role is to provide technical assistance, develop policies, conduct trainings, draft legislation, and produce research that informs the field of bail reform—from working closely on the “inside” lane with leaders in government and civil society, and also with “outside” lane organizations that are seeking to enact transformative change. We are heterodox and nimble in our approach to working on bail reform, recognizing that statutory schemes across the country are different, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, that local court culture varies, and what works in one place may not work in another.


Who you are

You are passionate about social and racial justice, motivated to drive change, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. You are enthusiastic, collaborative, curious, and kind. You have an extensive and nuanced understanding of the way bail works—in the courts, in the criminal justice system overall—and are familiar with reform efforts in the field, from litigation to legislation, advocacy, and community organizing. Ideally, you have spent a lot of time working on bail-related issues, either as a practitioner or advocate. The idea of working with a team of people who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives inspires you. You love to work collaboratively but also are comfortable operating solo. Importantly, you care deeply about racial equity—in your work and with your colleagues.


In this role, you will:

  • Work with Vera’s Director of Strategy & New Initiatives to develop a larger body of national work on bail reform at Vera, including 2-3 new projects in your first year;
  • Provide training and technical assistance, draft policies and legislation, and draw upon the most effective practices in the field to inform your work with jurisdictions looking to enact bail reform;
  • Develop and expand Vera’s expertise on bail reform by researching and authoring publications, connecting with other experts in the field, and engaging in the national discussion;
  • Learn from and work with other staff at Vera who are engaging in important bail reform efforts across the country, including New Orleans, New York, and other jurisdictions; and
  • Assist in the development of new work for Vera in the areas of technical assistance, legislative strategy, and research on bail reform.


What qualifications do you need?

  • Most of all, you must be curious and willing to research, read, and learn constantly, and translate that knowledge into strategic implementation and concrete outcomes. If it excites you to spend time on the ground, observing bail hearings and arraignments, talking to people in the field, researching things like legislative history, and developing and rolling out new ideas, this job is for you.
  • You’ll have firsthand experience with the way bail works—as a lawyer, advocate, or practitioner.
  • You are able to produce excellent writing in a variety of settings, from longer reports, briefing memos, to media opinions and editorials.
  • You are not intimidated by public speaking and presenting to diverse audiences—from judges, defense attorneys, to community groups—including people who may be hostile to your point of view.
  • You are flexible and able to multi-task, prioritize, and manage multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
  • You are willing and able to travel extensively, at least 1-2 trips per month.
  • You can work effectively with a diverse array of people and positions, including advocates, government officials, criminal justice system personnel, practitioners, and people who are directly impacted by the criminal justice system.


When you join our team

  • You can expect to work with a team of amazing people who have tenacity, are creative, scrappy, and are committed to getting the work done. Why? Because our work is urgent, impactful, and more important than ever.
  • You can count on doing solutions-oriented and policy-driven work that is innovative, challenging, and fulfilling. We ask difficult questions and entertain unconventional answers so we can reckon with the uncomfortable truths of our work.
  • You will have excellent benefits and work-life balance. Driving meaningful change is hard work. But we also know that you have a life, places to go, and people to see.


How to apply

Please submit a cover letter, and resume. The cover letter should outline the minimum and additional qualifications possessed by the candidate and address how the candidate will use those qualifications to excel at the position’s responsibilities. 


However, if necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / Senior Planner, Bail Reform

34 35th St, Suite 4-2A, Brooklyn, NY 11232 

Fax: (212) 941-9407


Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.

No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.


Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.

Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.

For more information about Vera, please visit

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