Contact: Jesse Lerner-Kinglake
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Linda McFarlane Appointed as the Next Executive Director of Just Detention International

  • September 15, 2020

Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., September 15, 2020 — Linda McFarlane, a veteran advocate and JDI’s longtime Deputy Executive Director, will take over next month as the organization’s new Executive Director. McFarlane brings to the role her extensive experience leading JDI’s pathbreaking initiatives to prevent and respond to sexual abuse inside detention facilities, and her expertise from more than three decades of working with survivors of sexual assault.

“I am thrilled to announce that JDI’s Board of Directors has appointed Linda McFarlane as the organization’s next Executive Director,” said Russell Robinson, JDI’s Board Chair. “Linda has a nuanced understanding of JDI’s mission, an unrivaled track record of advocating for incarcerated survivors, and a clear-eyed vision for building on our many accomplishments. I have no doubt that our movement will continue to thrive, and grow even stronger, with her at the helm.”

“It is the honor of a lifetime to be named Executive Director of JDI, an organization that is at the forefront of the movement to end sexual abuse in detention and has long been a bedrock of support for incarcerated survivors,” said McFarlane. “As Executive Director, I look forward to building on JDI’s legacy, which includes human rights legislation, survivor-led awareness-raising campaigns, and policy initiatives to bring trauma-informed programs behind bars.”

McFarlane takes over as JDI celebrates 40 years since its founding as the world’s only organization dedicated exclusively to ending prisoner rape — a distinction that it still holds. JDI has secured many impressive wins for prisoners’ rights, including the landmark Prison Rape Elimination Act standards, which Linda helped shape as one of the experts relied upon by the bipartisan commission that drafted them. At the same time, sexual abuse is still widespread in detention facilities, and prisoners are especially vulnerable right now.

“People in detention are so often ignored and forgotten — a trend that has continued during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic, and the systemic, state-sanctioned racism that our nation is now reckoning with, affect prisoners acutely. These crises underscore the urgency of our work to protect the dignity and safety of all people in detention, and to ensure that when the government takes away a person’s freedom, it upholds its absolute responsibility to keep that person safe,” said McFarlane.

McFarlane succeeds Lovisa Stannow, who announced in February that she was stepping down after 16 years as Executive Director. When Stannow became Executive Director, JDI had one office with a small handful of part-time staff; today, JDI has 25 staff and offices in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Johannesburg.

Linda and Lovisa have worked together since 2005, when Linda was hired to run JDI’s then-new project to bring direct services to prisoners in California. In 2008, she was named a Deputy Executive Director, overseeing the organization’s domestic programs. “Linda is fearless, compassionate, and a true visionary,” said Stannow. “She pioneered programs addressing sexual abuse inside prisons that many thought would be impossible: confidential rape crisis counseling, inmate-led sexual abuse peer education programs, and human rights training for prison staff, to name a few — all of which have become national models. Linda has also led JDI’s collaboration with corrections officials inside some of the nation’s most troubled facilities, proving that culture change is possible. I can’t wait to cheer Linda and the entire JDI team on from afar as the organization reaches new heights.”


Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.