I need your help.
I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 17 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

But now, more than ever, we need your help to put data & compassion into the conversation. Any gift you can make today will be matched by other donors and go twice as far.

Thank you.
—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate

Internships & Volunteering

“The Prison Policy Initiative was founded in 2001 by three students (a law student, a graduate student, and an undergraduate). Recognizing the power of students to make social change is baked right in to our organizational DNA.”
—Peter Wagner, Executive Director

I write to thank you for a truly inspiring, educational, and most of all, empowering spring break. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard and learned so much in such a short amount of time. I immediately realized that you possess an uncanny ability to mold raw, idealistic commitment to civil rights and social reform into productive legal and legislative action: I learned by doing, and you showed me what to do. I left feeling less jaded about the prospects for real political change. I’m confident that when I look back on my law school work experiences in the coming years, my spring break internship at PPI will rank as one of, if not the, most formative, not only in my development as a lawyer, but also in my development as a politically engaged and empowered person.

—Drew Kukorowski
University of North Carolina
School of Law 2L, April 2011

Download (3.4MB, 5:21)


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We work with undergraduate, graduate and law students in our Easthampton, Mass. office, and have several special programs for working people.

For working people

We have a volunteer list for motivated professionals around the country who want to apply their specialized skills and experience on their own time to our projects. To apply and learn more, send your answers to our introduction form (MSWord) to .

For graduate and law students

We are looking for graduate and law student interns to spend either the summer or spring break week helping us create and disseminate cutting-edge research on incarceration policy.

We are currently seeking one or two exceptional students for an Alternative Spring Break Project for 2019. Past week-long projects culminated in publications co-authored by our volunteers and cited by the New York Times editorial board. Minimum time commitment is four full days.

The summer program requires a 10 week commitment and will focus on prison gerrymandering in addition to other projects. Past intern projects have been our research database, the Do you know where the children are? A Report of Massachusetts Youth Unlawfully Held Without Bail report, Georgia’s attempted banishment of people on the state’s sex offender registry and a report on the racial disparities inherent in Massachusetts’ mandatory minimum sentencing law for drug offenses committed near schools. We usually take on just one or two interns for the summer, and preference will be given to interns who can make a commitment longer than 10 weeks.

In the past, we have offered in-office externships for law students who want to learn about criminal justice and electoral reform work on a one-day-a-week schedule.

Pay and housing: All spring break positions are unpaid, and we will actively support any fundraising efforts that you undertake at your school to support spring break or summer positions. Local activists and supporters will provide housing for Alternative Spring Breakers. We are unable to provide housing for summer interns, but we think you will find the region quite affordable and we will make some helpful referrals to locate housing in the Easthampton/Northampton area.

Deadline: Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. (All positions for 2018 have been filled, we look forward to hearing from you for 2019.)


Leah and Yoo Eun talk about outreach to incarcerated people

Yoo Eun Kim and Leah talk about progressive criminal justice reform proposals.

Catie Cain wraps up outreach to legislators

Catherine Cain puts the finishing touches on her outreach to state legislators project.

We provide workstudy positions and volunteer opportunities for 5-College area students. Most often, students come in one-day or afternoon a week during the semester to help with ongoing or special projects. Please contact us or your student employment office for more details.

The location

Our office in Easthampton is located 2 hours west of Boston, 2 hours east of Albany, NY and an hour north of Hartford, CT in beautiful Western Massachusetts. Easthampton is accessible from nearby Northampton by PVTA (Red 41 bus and the Nashawannuck Express flexvan), and you can get here via the Peter Pan/Greyhound Bus Station in Northampton, the Amtrak train station in Springfield, and the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT.

To apply

In-office externship program, send via :

  • A cover letter with at least one paragraph explaining why you would like to work for the Prison Policy Initiative.
  • A resume
  • A completed copy of our skill assessment form (MS Word) so we can match the work to your skills and interests.

5 College work study program, send via :

  • A completed copy of our skill assessment form (MS Word) so we can match the work to your skills and interests.

Summer program (2019), send via :

  • A cover letter with:
    • at least one paragraph explaining why you would like to work for the Prison Policy Initiative,
    • a description of how many weeks you could commit to working with us, and
    • a description about how we could help you raise funds at your school to support a summer clerkship at the Prison Policy Initiative.
  • A resume
  • A completed copy of our skill assessment form (MS Word) so we can match the work to your skills and interests.

Alternative Spring Break project (2019), send via :

  • A cover letter that includes the dates you are available, your year in law school and whether you would need housing.
  • A completed copy of our skill assessment form (MS Word) so we can match the work to your skills and interests.

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