Mitigation Specialist/Mitigation Training Director

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Job location
Durham, NC
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
North Carolina
Job type: 
Position Description: 

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether it’s protecting the rights of immigrants, ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for women and the LGBT community, advancing racial justice, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties and civil rights cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than one million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, record of arrest or conviction.

The Capital Punishment Project of the American Civil Liberties Union invites applications for the full time position of Mitigation Specialist/Mitigation Training Director for its Durham, North Carolina office.


The Capital Punishment Project, part of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, challenges the unfairness and arbitrariness of capital punishment while working toward the ultimate goal of abolishing the death penalty. The Project engages in public advocacy and strategic litigation, including direct representation of capital defendants. The Project’s litigation is conducted throughout the country.


High quality mitigation investigations – unearthing the multigenerational, culturally-specific, and fact-rich stories that shape a capital defendant’s life - are critical for building the case for a life sentence. The Project seeks a Mitigation Specialist to: develop and implement a training program to bring high quality mitigation to high need jurisdictions; and serve as the mitigation specialist in a limited number of the Project’s own trial and post-conviction cases. The position will serve as faculty and/or organize state and national trainings, provide mentorship to junior mitigation specialists, and serve as a critical member of the defense team on a limited roster of cases. The role reports to the Project Director.

The Mitigation Specialist will take responsibility for leading the investigation and analysis of comprehensive life-history investigations for the Project’s cases in both trial and post-conviction proceedings. The role will also serve as the requisite team member capable, by experience and training, of screening for the presence of mental or psychological disorders or impairments. This work will include preparing comprehensive social histories of capital defendants through client interviews, collateral interviews with multi-generational family members and others, and the collection and evaluation of life history records (school, hospital, child welfare agencies, etc.). The position will also involve responsibility for acting as a liaison with mental health experts. The successful candidate will demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance. They will also commit to working collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.


The salary is commensurate with experience and within the parameters of the ACLU compensation scale. An excellent benefits package is provided.



Bachelor Degree and a minimum of 4 years’ experience as a mitigation specialist or equivalent years of experience in capital cases, or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required.
Experience presenting trainings regarding mitigation investigations and best practices at state or national trainings
Extensive experience in research and fact gathering
Excellent communications skills, both written and verbal
Substantial experience with all of the following:
- the law governing mitigation evidence in capital cases;
- the psychological, behavioral, and neurological diseases and disorders set forth in the most recent edition of the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; and
- interviewing clients, family members, relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers, employers, and other potential mitigation
witnesses, including those from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds from the applicant to obtain
information regarding the capital defendant’s life story relevant to statutory and nonstatutory mitigating factors.
An approach to investigation that is creative, curious, strategic, and culturally-competent
Ability to work successfully as part of the defense team in a client-centered practice
Strong computer skills, including internet search and people finder tasks, case file organization, digesting, and tracking of collected information, and with programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint
Willingness and ability to frequently travel throughout the country and abroad as needed

To apply: 

Please send a letter of interest, a current resume, the names, telephone numbers and addresses of three work-related references, and a relevant writing sample to [email protected]. Reference [Mitigation Specialist/Mitigation Training/CPP] in the subject line.

Please note that this is not the general ACLU applicant email address. This email address is specific to Capital Punishment Project postings. In order to ensure your application is received, please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting.

This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages 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 and record of arrest or conviction.

The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.

We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact: [email protected]. Correspondence sent to this email address that is not related to requests for accommodations will not be reviewed. Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply.

The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”

Equal Opportunity Employer