Mitigation Specialist

Open Date: Jun 15, 2023
Close Date: Jul 7, 2023
Position Type: Full Time (Term expiring September 30, 2024)
Job Vacancy #: PDS-2023-26
Location: 633 Indiana Avenue NW Washington, DC 20004

About The Job

PDS Overview:

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS is funded by federal appropriations and all employees are entitled to participate in federal health and life insurance plans, federal retirement plans, Workers Compensation, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. 

Employment at the Public Defender Service (PDS) is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment and all employees are at-will.

Division Overview:

The Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service is dedicated to addressing recurring and systemic violations of our clients’ rights to fair trials and fair treatment. The Division engages in a wide variety of criminal and civil litigation in local and federal courts. 

Position Description:

One area of the Division’s focus is the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA), a D.C. law that entitles certain individuals to seek reduced sentences.  Individuals who were under 25 years old at the time of the offense and who have served at least 15 years in prison are eligible. Because these cases involve lengthy sentences, the clients are serving time primarily for homicide and sexual assault convictions.  IRAA requires the judge to consider certain factors, including the client’s life and circumstances at the time of the offense, any history of abuse or trauma, and any rehabilitation that has occurred since the sentencing. 

Major Duties:

This position is located in the Special Litigation Division. The purpose of the position is to obtain mitigation information and prepare comprehensive written mitigation reports.  The incumbent conducts personal history background, evaluates social and legal factors, studies institutional records, interviews client and collateral persons, recommends interventions designed to help individual clients find satisfactory ways of coping with present and past personal trauma and social challenges that led to incarceration, and devises treatment/service alternatives to confinement that address continued rehabilitation needs upon community re-entry.

The work is focused on Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA) cases, including gathering and presenting evidence regarding the specific IRAA factors.  Some of the Major Duties are:

1. Write detailed and comprehensive mitigation reports, which will be filed in court.  Reports will focus on the specific IRAA factors including: the client’s family and community circumstances, including any abuse, trauma, or involvement in the child welfare system; the defendant’s health and mental health; the client’s adjustment in prison; the client’s demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.  

2. Conduct an investigation of the client’s character, life history, record, circumstances of the offense, rehabilitation, conduct in prison, and other factors. Work with the attorneys and investigators assigned to IRAA cases and work independently to develop a mitigation investigation plan and conduct the mitigation investigation. Assist in developing mitigation strategies and themes.   

3. Work as a key participant in the mitigation investigation, to gather documents for the mitigation report. Review and analyze records. 

4. Conduct multiple, comprehensive and detailed in-person interviews, in a culturally competent manner, with clients, clients’ family and friends, and other witnesses.  Interviews include gathering clients’ socio-biographical information and information regarding the offense.  Interviews with clients and some witnesses will be conducted at prisons and jails; other interviews may be conducted at homes or places of employment.  Frequently, the mitigation specialist will be required to travel out of the area to conduct interviews and other aspects of the investigation.   

5. Communicate with prison and jail officials regarding rehabilitation, education, treatment, and any disciplinary issues.  Ensure that clients are receiving appropriate rehabilitation, education, and treatment services.  

6. Advise attorneys regarding appropriate mental health experts and other experts. Consult with experts regarding mitigation information, rehabilitation information, and treatment information.  

7. Thorough consideration and analysis of potential mental health diagnoses, cognitive issues, psychological attributes, and potential treatments when appropriate.      

8. Conduct reentry planning, including identifying and making referrals for mental health services, employment, substance abuse treatment, and other services.  Maintain familiarity with reentry service providers.  Consult and work with social workers to develop a detailed and comprehensive reentry plan. 

9. Assist with discrete projects in SLD and other duties as assigned. 

Required Qualifications:

Preferred Education: A Juris Doctor or a Master’s Degree or higher in Social Work, Psychology, Counseling, Criminal Justice, Criminology, Sociology, Writing, Journalism, Anthropology or related degree. 

A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Criminal Justice, Law, Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, Writing, Journalism, Anthropology or other related fields, and at least two years of specialized experience as a Mitigation Specialist or related experience.

NOTE: Education must be from an accredited institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Applicants can verify accreditation at the following website: All education claimed by applicants will be verified by PDS.

Special Instructions For Foreign Education: Applicants who are using education completed in foreign colleges or universities to meet the qualification requirements, must show that the education credentials have been evaluated by a private organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign education programs and such education has been deemed equivalent to that gained in an accredited U.S. education program; or full credit has been given for the courses at a U.S. accredited college or university.  For further information, visit:

Other Requirements: (1) applicant must have insured, reliable and available transportation; (2)  applicant must have no convictions as defined in D.C. Code Sec. 14.305(b)(1) (Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime); (3) applicant must be a US Citizen or authorized to work in the United States.

All candidates are subject to a criminal background check.

Preferred Qualifications:

Preferred Education:  Juris Doctorate (J.D.) or a Master’s Degree or higher in Social Work, Clinical Psychology, Counseling, or related degree. 

Highly Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs): In addition to a traditional resume, candidates should submit a separate narrative statement addressing the following quality ranking factors. These factors will be used to distinguish the best-qualified applicants from a group of persons basically qualified for the position. Failure to submit your narrative response for this job will negatively affect your eligibility and/or rating for this position.

1. Experience working with arrested adults and understanding of the plight of persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.
2. Ability to interpret complex rulings and opinions and determine applicability to the client.
3. Demonstrated experience working independently.
4. Direct defense experience working with adult clients on rehabilitation and dispositional issues.
5. Knowledge of psychological, psychiatric, addiction, medical, and all concepts related to rehabilitation and alternatives to confinement.
6. Demonstrated excellent writing and oral persuasion skills and ability to communicate effectively to broad spectrum of people.
7. Demonstrated computer skills.
8. Fluency in Spanish (reading and writing).
9. Familiarity with treatment and rehabilitation resources.
10. Knowledge of the court system. Detailed knowledge of the prison system in general, and specific aspects of prison life such as solitary confinement, prison conditions, etc.

Application Evaluation:

How you will be evaluated:  Your application package includes your résumé and required supporting documents. Please ensure your résumé includes detailed information to support your qualifications for this position; failure to provide sufficient evidence in your résumé may result in a rejection of your application package.

Rating: Your application package will be rated and ranked among others based on your experience, education, writing sample, training, performance appraisals, and awards relevant to the duties of this position. Your rating can be lowered if your application package is not supported by the required documents.

Referral: If you are among the top qualified candidates, your application package will be referred to a selecting official for consideration at which time you may be required to participate in a selection interview. 

Interview Structure:  Those who are selected for interviews will be required to interview in person or via WebEx.

Number of vacancies:


Pay Series:

PDS-0101 GS-11 Equivalent


$78,592.00 - $102,166


Telework: This is a full-time, temporary position that will expire on September 30, 2024.  Currently the Division requires two days of in office work, but that may increase.  The exact mix of in-person and remote work will depend on the needs of the Division, assignments that must be performed in person (e.g., hearing in court and in facilities, client visits in detention facilities), and office space availability.   Telework:  This position is telework eligible.

Benefits: PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and employees are entitled to participate in federal benefits plans, federal retirement systems, and the workers compensation program. Transferring federal employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement (if applicable) purposes. Benefits include:

Federal Employees Retirement Systems 
Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401K program) 
Federal Employees Health Benefits 
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance 
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program
Flexible Spending Accounts (for health care and dependent care)
Long Term Care
Parking Space (for Investigative Specialists)
Employee Assistance Program
Federal Occupational Health (access to health clinic and services)

Who May Apply:

US Citizens or persons authorized to work in the United States.

How to Apply:

You must provide a complete package which includes (1) a traditional résumé (with day telephone and email contact); (2) graduate school transcripts (if applicable); (3) a narrative statement addressing above KSAs; (4) a writing sample (preferably a mitigation report or sentencing memorandum); (5) a list of three references; and; (6) your most recent performance appraisal (if applicable), (7) a list of three references that include name, address, telephone number, and a statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills to HR Specialist Brigette Carrington, Office of Human Resources, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Job Announcement PDS# 2023-26, 633 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004 as MS Word or PDF document attachments to the following email address: [email protected] vacancy announcement PDS#-2023-26 and title of the vacancy MUST APPEAR on the subject line of the email. 

***PDS Does Not Accept Application Packages Via Email, Mail or Fax***



The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization; governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 235 attorneys, social workers, investigative specialists, administrative, and technical staff collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in the federal health and life insurance plans, the federal retirement plans (FERS, FERS-RAE, FERS-FRAE, CSRS, CSRS-Offset), and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. Employment at PDS is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

PDS is an E-Verify participating agency. Please see the Right to Work Poster and the E-Verify Participation Poster for more information.


PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participant.