Who We Are
Malcolm C. Young, Prison Reentry Strategies director, began his legal career in 1974 in Chicago as a trial attorney in innovative criminal defense programs including the Cook County Criminal Defense Consortium, one of the nations’ first community-based defender offices and at the Northwestern University School of Law legal clinic. In 1980, he joined the Defender Division of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in Washington, D.C. While there Young also joined and a federally-funded project that established state appellate defender offices in Iowa, North Carolina and New Hampshire.
In 1981 he undertook a project of his own design, The Sentencing Project, to improve sentencing advocacy in criminal courts. The national non-profit organization promotes alternatives to incarceration and reforms in sentencing law and practice. Young helped establish and set standards for defense-based sentencing programs in jurisdictions in more than 20 states.
Under Young’s leadership, The Sentencing Project became an highly-regarded source of original research and an acknowledged opinion shaper on questions of sentencing and corrections, that influenced policy-makers, academics, criminal justice professionals and the general public. From 1999-2003 he served as co-counsel in several high-profile cases in which juveniles were prosecuted as adults for their participation in homicides, which motivated further research, innovative program design and advocacy juvenile transfer and sentencing reform.
In 2005, Young returned to Chicago to direct the John Howard Association of Illinois which provides public oversight of the state’s prisons, jails, and juvenile correctional facilities.
Young entered private practice in 2009 and, under the auspices of Northwestern Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, initiated an investigation of the employment side of prisoner reentry. In this capacity he directs the Prison Reentry Strategy initiative. Currently he and his students are developing new approaches and program models to advance prisoner reentry.
Young frequently speaks and writes on crime, punishment and sentencing issues to general and professional audiences, legislative committees and members of the news media. His current work addresses contemporary issues such as “early release” and efforts to help end mass incarceration in the United States.
In 2010 Governor Quinn appointed Young to the Illinois Corrections Advisory Board and he was awarded a coveted Soros Justice Fellowship.
Young holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and a JD from Catholic University School of Law.