Many people who are convicted of minor and victimless offenses are required by courts to do community service as part or all of their sentence. While this is often unfair, such as in cases where there is no victim, once you are sentenced, jury nullification education is not likely to be of direct use in your case.

However, you may find it to be a productive use of your sentence to volunteer for FIJA to create more fully informed jurors who are empowered to vote Not Guilty when the law is unjust or unjustly applied, even if it has technically been broken. We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available from handing out FIJA brochures at courthouses or other public places to research work that can be done at the library, at school, or in your own home.

If a court is requiring you to do community service work as part or all of your penalty, you may be able to volunteer for FIJA for some or all of your community service hours. Arrangements for this must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis due to the differing requirements of courts across the country.

To inquire about the possibility of doing your community service by volunteering for FIJA, please email us at aji@fija.org with “Community Service Inquiry” in the subject line. Please include your name, city where you are located, and the timeframe in which you must complete your community service hours in the body of the email with your inquiry.

Please be prepared to send us a copy of paperwork outlining the requirements for your community service or a link to the requirements online. We need to know before you begin what the court requires of us in supervising you, in filling out paperwork, deadlines that need to be met, etc. so that you get due credit for your work.

We will also need to discuss with you what you will need to provide us in order for us to sign off on your hours. This will vary depending on your volunteer work. It may include a work product (such as in the case of research), periodic status reports by email, pictures of you at work (such as when doing courthouse outreach), etc. We will do our best to find some reporting method that works for you as well as us.

In the case of courthouse or other public outreach, we will provide training (usually online, but occasionally in person if travel happens to allow that) to help you stay within the law when handing out FIJA brochures. We will provide training on other specific tasks as needed, and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have or support your volunteer work in other ways throughout the duration of your community service.

FIJA is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit, educational organization, and we can supply you with an IRS letter to that effect if the court needs one to qualify your FIJA volunteer work to apply against your community service requirement.

Photo credit: Courtroom One Gavel by Joe Gratz via Flickr. Public domain.