Who We Are

Justice Strategies works to provide high-quality research to support grassroots movements and sensible policy reforms. The organization began as a collaborative project of Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis, who have over 45 years of collective experience researching and campaigning against mass incarceration. Justice Strategies has since evolved into a vibrant organization that captures the voices of some the brightest and most innovative thinkers on criminal justice and immigration reform.

Judith Greene

is one of the nation’s leading criminal justice policy experts whose essays and articles on criminal sentencing issues, police practices, and correctional policy have been published in numerous books, as well as in national and international journals. Her work has been cited in countless media stories and investigative reports in outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and National Public Radio. Ms. Greene has over thirty years researching, writing and orchestrating criminal justice reform. She has received a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute, served as a research associate for the RAND Corporation, as a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School, and as director of the State-Centered Program for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. From 1985 to 1993 she was Director of Court Programs at the Vera Institute of Justice.

Néstor M. Ríos

has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, organizational change and development, program and policy analysis, university administration and consulting. He was director of the Easyride Transportation project and the Essex Bail Bond Program for The Vera Institute of Justice, and was a legislative analyst for both New York City’s Human Resources Administration and New Jersey's Department of the Public Advocate. He was the director of professional and executive development at the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy (MGS) a division of New School University (NSU), and worked in executive-level leadership positions at a bilingual multi-service community-based agency in Boston and a national public policy advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

Alexis Mazón

is a Researcher with Justice Strategies in New York City. Mazón has been involved in public policy and grassroots campaigning in the areas of human rights, labor rights, migration, prisons and privatization for more than 20 years. As a law student in the Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, she developed media strategies to repeal U.S. mandatory detention and deportation policies. She then headed to San Francisco where she led the Youth Law Center’s advocacy efforts on behalf of immigrant youth in the juvenile justice and immigration detention systems. Mazón spent three years at the City of Tucson Public Defender’s Office and helped launch the Arizona Public Defender’s Association’s Immigrant Defense Task Force. In her spare time, she led campaigns against Arizona’s anti-immigrant ballot initiatives and consulted on documentary films highlighting the escalating militarization of the US-México borderlands. She subsequently joined the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where she developed a groundbreaking popular education curriculum on overcoming barriers Latino immigrants and African Americans encounter in the labor market. Mazón received her BA from Stanford University and her JD from NYU School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden Kern Public Interest Scholar. She grew up in Tucson and was born in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Justice Strategies Associates

Aarthi Shahani

is co-author, with Judy Greene, of Local Democracy on ICE: Why State and Local Government have no Business in Federal Immigration Enforcement. Ms. Shahani is a co-founder and board cof Families for Freedom (FFF), a multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing deportation. FFF has provided direct support to over 1,000 immigrant families, and trained hundreds of community groups across the country on deportation defense. Ms. Shahani contributes to local media including the “War on Immigrants Report” for WBAI/Pacifica Radio, Caribbean Life, and Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She is an Advisory Board Member of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. Previously she was an advocate with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and a Board Member of Citizens and Immigrants for Equal Justice. She also received a Union Square Award and a New Voices Fellowship.

Patricia Allard

was an Open Society Institute Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow and is a research consultant at Justice Strategies. As an OSI Fellow she developed a ‘research to action’ initiative that resulted in child welfare reform, affecting over one million children whose parents are incarcerated. Ms. Allard's research and advocacy efforts encompass a broad range of topics, with a particular focus on the impact of criminal justice policies on low-income women and women of color.

Ms. Allard is an attorney who has consulted for Amnesty International and worked on staff at both the Sentencing Project and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. She is the author of several national reports, including “Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits to Women Convicted of Drug Offenses” (Sentencing Project, 2002) and “Rebuilding Families, Reclaiming Lives: State Obligations to Children in Foster Care and their Incarcerated Parents” (Patricia Allard and Lynn Lu, Brennan Center for Justice, 2006).

Ms. Allard is a graduate of Queen's University Law School in Canada (1996), was called to the bar of Ontario in 1998, and received her master's in criminology from the Center of Criminology at the University of Toronto (1999). From May 2009 to 2012 she was Deputy Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

Robert Rooks

was also an Open Society Institute Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow with Justice Strategies. The primary goal of Mr. Rook's fellowship project was to develop collaborations that make research useful, accessible and accountable to communities. Prior to his appointment by the NAACP as director of their newly formed Criminal Justice Division in the fall of 2009, Mr. Rooks worked with Justice Strategies as a Community Justice Strategies Facilitation consultant on projects in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Mr. Rooks has had over ten years of experience coordinating research and organizing on drug policy, criminal justice and related issues. As Executive Director of A Better Way Foundation (ABWF) in Connecticut, he worked with Create Change, (a local grassroots group), and the Center for Social Research at the University of Hartford to transform ABWF from a policy think tank into a reform vehicle utilizing research for organizing and coalition building. These efforts ultimately won major drug policy reforms in Connecticut including the first major legislative initiative to equalize sentences for rock cocaine (Crack) versus other cocaine derivatives.

Robert’s leadership on drug policy and racial justice helped to draw national attention to the over-representation of crack cocaine users in prison.

Justice Strategies Advisory Board

William Rodriguez

is Chair of Justice Strategies Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor and Chair of Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy at Wheelock College. He has worked in the criminal justice and legal systems for over 25 years. He has also served in a variety of leadership positions with the Vera Institute of Justice, and as executive director of the Boston Campaign for Proficiency, La Alianza Hispana, and the Crime Justice Foundation. He is a passionate and zealous advocate of human and civil rights, social justice, and democratic equity for youth.

He is a recognized and influential leader in the Latino community in Massachusetts. Much of his work has taken place in both Boston and New York City. His current research interests are primarily in the effects of zero tolerance policies and school disciplinary procedures on the school-to-prison pipeline and the disproportionate representation of Latino youth in juvenile detention facilities. Other areas of interest include youth violence prevention and race, ethnic, and class dynamics in the dispensation of justice.

Rodriguez received a BA from Fordham University in 1980; an MS in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University in 1985; and a JD from Northeastern University Law School in 1998. He is a pre-law advisor to students and co-advisor to the Latino student organization La Herencia Latina at Wheelock. He also was a research and writing contributor to the Boston Bar Association “Task Force Justice Report on Corrections” in 1990, and “Bridging the Public Safety Gap- Prisoner Re-entry” report for the Crime and Justice Foundation in 1998. Both reports led to a level of criminal justice systemic reform and new program development in Massachusetts.

He has served as a member on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Proficiency Gap Sub-Committee on English Language Learners; a board member of Diploma Plus and the School and Main Institute; and an advisory member of the Governor's Initiative for Safe and Successful Youth. He is the founding and still an active member of the Multi-Cultural Drop-out Prevention Collaborative.

Sally T. Hillsman

is a sociologist with a specialty in crime and justice and has served as Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association (ASA) since 2002. Hillsman was the Deputy Director at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), U.S. Department of Justice, from 1993 to 1996.  She was responsible for developing and managing the external behavioral and social science research program and the intramural research program at the National Institute of Justice.

Before joining NIJ, she was Vice President for Research at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia, and, prior to that, Associate Director of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City. She was also on the faculty in the Department of Sociology at Queens College of the City University of New York. Beyond Hillsman’s sociological work on crime and justice, she brings research expertise on labor markets and education, with an emphasis on race and gender.

Hillsman has been active in the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), the American Society of Criminology (ASC), and the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS). She served on the Executive Council of the ASC in 2000-2001, She served on the Board of SSSP from 1977-80 and was Vice President in 1982-83.

A noted expert on research and science policy issues ranging from data access to confidentiality, Hillsman is currently a member of the ASA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and a member of the Social and Behavioral Science Working Group of the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee. She earned her doctoral degree in sociology from Columbia University and her AB degree in economics and sociology from Mount Holyoke College. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Hillsman was the recipient of a Danforth Fellowship and a predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Vivian Nixon

is an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her current work includes fighting for the removal of barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated people in the United States, and advocating for the inclusion of higher education in prison and in reentry. In 2004, she received the "Lifting as We Climb Advocacy Award" from the Correctional Association of New York. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services Administration from the State University of New York, Empire College and is in the process of completing a Master of Liberal Studies, at the same institution.

Rev. Nixon is currently the director, and an alum of the College and Community Fellowship (CCF). CCF uses higher education and leadership development as primary strategies to help formerly incarcerated women develop economic security for themselves and their families. As a recipient of a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship awarded by the Open Society Institute in 2005, she founded ReEnterGrace – a project that employs the talent of formerly incarcerated women and men to reach out to African American faith-based communities and educate them about the disparate impact of United States criminal justice policies on people of color, to encourage them to help individuals resettle in the community, and to help them advocate for the elimination of systemic barriers to reentry.

Rev. Nixon serves on the advisory boards of the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College, the Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment (ICARE), and Reentry Net. Rev. Nixon recently published an essay titled "A Christian Response to Mass Incarceration: Unbind them!" in the Beacon Press anthology "Getting on Message: Challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel."

Anjuli Verma

gained her early experience working in social justice organizations at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, the National Indian Human Rights Commission in New Delhi, and Glide Memorial Church and the Homeless Advocacy Project in San Francisco. She served as a communications and program strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union for seven years, with a focus on drug policy and criminal justice system reform. During her tenure with the ACLU, Anjuli co-authored a number of policy reports detailing the negative effects of the drug war on people of color, women, children, families and schools. She also led the media and publicity campaigns for over a dozen civil rights lawsuits in state and federal courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, Anjuli participated in the design of numerous public opinion research projects regarding public attitudes towards marijuana legalization, mass incarceration and racial disparity within the criminal justice system. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California, Irvine. She earned a B.A. with Distinction in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia in 2002.

Constituents

While we work closely with elected officials, correctional administrators, academics and attorneys, we define our constituency as organizations and coalitions that represent communities directly affected by mass incarceration. We count groups such as American Friends Service Committee (AZ), the Connecticut Alliance, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Families for Freedom (NY), Justice Maryland, the New Bottom Line Campaign (AL), the Prison Moratorium Project (NY), the Second Chance Campaign (NJ), WISDOM’s “TIP” campaign (WI), the Western Prison Project (now the Partnership for Safety and Justice in OR), the national Detention Watch Network and the Mississippi ACLU among our constituents.