José Santos Woss

Legislative Manager, Criminal Justice and Election Integrity


Jose Santos Woss

José is the Legislative Manager for Criminal Justice and Election Integrity. He leads FCNL’s work on criminal justice reform, election integrity, and policing. He helps to lead the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition, an alliance of more than 40 national faith groups advocating to end mass incarceration.

Prior to joining FCNL, José was the Policy Fellow for the American Friends Service Committee bringing Quaker values to a busy policy portfolio consisting of criminal justice reform, human rights, and peacebuilding research. His passion for racial justice led him to help lead a coalition advocating for the human rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent facing statelessness. Before joining the Quaker community he lobbied on public health and appropriations for a large, international law firm. José started his career in public policy working in the United States Senate. While working for Senator Robert Menendez Jose built a robust understanding of public policy, legislative process, and effectively communicating policy/politics to constituents.

Before his time in the Senate, Jose was a social worker for HIV-positive clients in New York City. While attending Montclair State University and right after graduating he served as an AmeriCorps member in a community-based, immigrant-serving nonprofit helping recently-arrived African refugees in New Jersey. He also provided French interpretation and translation services for Survivors of Torture counseling and USCIS asylum interviews. José’s national service and time as a social worker illustrated the ways society and institutions are built to leave so many people behind.

Jose is a proud son of immigrants who’s passionate about political process, public service, and social justice. Jose is fluent in three languages. He attained the degree of Master of Public Administration from American University and is a graduate of Montclair State University. He tweets a little too much, reads about race and history, and tries to overcome his reputation as a bad cook.

jose@fcnl.org

Articles by José Santos Woss

Background How Can We Restore Integrity to Our Elections? 

Our system of elections and the role of money in politics need serious reforms.

Update Speaking of Education Reform, What Can Congress Learn from Orange is the New Black? 

Recently, I joined Illinois Rep Danny Davis to talk about lifting the Pell Grant ban and giving people more access to education. Congress has introduced a bill - the bipartisan REAL Act (H.R.2168 /S.1074) - which would restore access to Pell Grants. But it is not moving as fast as planned and needs some helpful pressure for final passage.

Update Restoring Access to Education in Prisons 

In the 1990’s leaders in Washington, D.C. sought to increase punitive sentences and address crime through harsh punishment. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322) increased prison sentences, created incentives for states to build new prisons, and strengthened laws that made the incarcerated serve more of their sentence before their release. The law also eliminated Pell Grants in prisons.

Action Alert Tell Congress: Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement 

The Department of Defense 1033 program funnels military equipment from the Pentagon to local, federal, and tribal law enforcement.

Update The House Passed H.R. 1 – What Comes Next? 

Exciting news! The House just passed the most sweeping election integrity bill that we’ve seen in nearly two decades. The For The People Act (H.R. 1) contains major reforms to campaign finance, voting, and ethics rules.

Update 116th Congress Tackles Voter Suppression and Money in Politics 

The first bill out of the House (H.R. 1) is a major overhaul of our democracy.

Action Alert Support the First Step Act 

Mass incarceration takes 2.3 million people away from our communities - many of them black and brown people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

Update Senate Takes Step Toward Criminal Justice Reform 

The President expressed his support for the bipartisan criminal justice reform package the revised FIRST STEP Act. This revised legislation, which includes both prison and sentencing reform was introduced as S.3649. This is a welcome evolution from where we started this Congress.

Update Voter Suppression is Rooted in Fear and Hate 

Just decades ago, a black person could be asked to count jelly beans in a jar as a test before they were permitted to cast their ballot. Less than 100 years ago the KKK hung recently freed men for daring to exercise their right to vote. We have struggled with our legacy of white supremacy as we have worked to include women as well as racial and ethnic minorities in our common political life. Some of the fiercest campaigns for inclusion have involved extending the right to vote.

Update Stop Shackling Mothers and Start Improving Prisons 

The U.S. incarcerates more of its people than any other country in the world. Increasingly, women are making up the fastest growing demographic behind bars.