Many people are now aware of our nation’s issue of mass incarceration and injustice within the criminal legal system. It can be easy to dismiss these structural issues as too complicated or entrenched to be dismantled. However, interning with the Georgia Justice Project has opened my eyes to the grassroots effort to combat injustice within our legal system while supporting individuals and their families throughout this struggle. I knew I wanted to be a part of this effort as soon as I learned about GJP, but wasn’t sure how much of a difference my time would truly make. Thanks to GJP, I have had the opportunity to assist and speak with countless directly impacted individuals. I know from the gratitude in their voices and the hope they share that my time could not be better spent any other way. I never imagined I could have made such a tangible impact on people’s lives as an undergraduate in college.
In addition to just an internship, this experience has been highly educational through both formal and informal means. As an undergraduate intern, I have participated in numerous educational and experiential activities that have reshaped my view of the criminal legal system. Through our lunch and learn sessions I have peaked into the web of organizations and individuals actively working within the criminal legal system to provide direct services to those impacted. Many of our speakers had personal experience within the system, and it is truly inspiring to hear their passion and courage to return to the system and help those who have taken their place. Perhaps the most impactful of these events was a graduation ceremony at the Metro Reentry Facility. In just my first week as an intern, I was able to visit a prison and hear speeches from incarcerated individuals who were about to reenter society. This experience has provided constant inspiration and hope that my work will help make a difference in turning someone’s life around.
I applied to intern at the Georgia Justice Project hoping to make a real impact on individuals caught in an unjust system. Because of the amazing culture and community at GJP, I have accomplished this goal and so much more.
Jack Warshal, 2022 GJP Undergraduate Intern