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The Sentencing Project, Research And Advocacy For Reform


Established in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

The Sentencing Project was founded in 1986 to provide defense lawyers with sentencing advocacy training and to reduce the reliance on incarceration. Since that time, The Sentencing Project has become a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system with a successful formula that includes the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform.

As a result of The Sentencing Project’s research, publications and advocacy, many people know that this country is the world’s leader in incarceration, that one in three young black men is under control of the criminal justice system, that five million Americans can’t vote because of felony convictions, and that thousands of women and children have lost welfare, education and housing benefits as the result of convictions for minor drug offenses.

The Sentencing Project is dedicated to changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment.


Executive Director

Marc Mauer is one of the country’s leading experts on sentencing policy, race and the criminal justice system.  He has directed programs on criminal justice policy reform for 30 years, and is the author of some of the most widely-cited reports and publications in the field.  The Atlantic magazine has described him as a scholar who has “reframed how Americans view crime, race, and poverty in the public sphere.” His 1995 report on racial disparity and the criminal justice system led the New York Times to editorialize that the report “should set off alarm bells from the White House to city halls – and help reverse the notion that we can incarcerate our way out of fundamental social problems.”

Communications Manager

Jean Chung oversees The Sentencing Project’s strategic communications planning and evaluation, media outreach, report publication, graphic design and data visualization. She manages the website, social media platforms, constituency mailings and newsletters. Prior to joining The Sentencing Project, she served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center. As a Fellow, she completed a landscape evaluation of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) access in the state of Wisconsin and authored a qualitative policy brief exploring the intersection between poverty and the Baltimore bail system. Chung received her Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Emory University.

Research Analyst

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., is a research analyst at The Sentencing Project who conducts and synthesizes research on criminal justice policies. She analyzes racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts. Her report, “Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies,” was featured in outlets including the New York Times and WNYC’s On the Media. She has also co-authored “Can We Wait 88 Years to End Mass Incarceration?” and “Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States.” She edits The Sentencing Project’s Race and Justice Newsletter.

Dr. Ghandnoosh earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation, “Challenging Mass Incarceration: A California Group’s Advocacy for the Parole Release of Term-to-Life Prisoners,” examined resistance to severe sentences through an in-depth study of a South Los Angeles-based group.

Federal Advocacy Counsel

Jeremy Haile is federal advocacy counsel for The Sentencing Project. His portfolio covers a range of issues, including sentencing policy, incarceration, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Previously, Jeremy served for nearly four years on Capitol Hill, where he was legislative counsel to Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas.  Jeremy was instrumental in advancing bipartisan legislation, signed into law by President Obama, to protect lawyer trust accounts that fund legal aid.

Jeremy has maintained a deep interest in criminal justice policy since making regular visits as a college student to prisoners outside of Abilene, Texas. After college, he worked as a case manager for the homeless in Dallas and served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia.

Jeremy’s advocacy has appeared in the New York Times, National Journal, and on NPR’s All Things Considered, and he has been an invited speaker at Harvard Law School and at Princeton University.

Jeremy earned a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and a B.A. in political science from Abilene Christian University.  He lives with his wife Jen in Washington, D.C.

Development Director

Marc Levin directs The Sentencing Project’s fundraising efforts. He has 15 years of experience directing the development programs of non-profit human rights and international health organizations, including the Guttmacher Institute, Free the Slaves and Global Rights. His breadth of experience includes raising funds from private foundations and individuals, as well as from U.S. and European governments and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, WHO and World Bank.

Marc has a Master’s Degree in social work from the City University of New York and worked in the mental health field for 25 years as a clinician, adjunct and assistant professor of social work at New York, Rutgers, and Fordham Universities, and consultant to medical facilities, schools and social service agencies on how to promote the mental health of children. Marc has long been active as a volunteer in the struggle for prisoner’s rights with groups such as the ACLU and National Association of Social Workers, and co-established the first county jail mental health program in New Jersey.

Program Associate

Morgan McLeod is the Program Associate at The Sentencing Project. Prior to joining The Sentencing Project, she was the New Media Strategist at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, where she oversaw social media outreach and managed website content and re-development. In addition, she also provided communications, research, and programmatic support to the Joint Center’s Energy and Environment Program, and managed their Commission to Engage African Americans on Energy, Climate Change and the Environment. McLeod received a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a Master of Science in Global Medicine from the University of Southern California. Her research and professional interests focus on race, health, social justice, and the built environment.

Director of Operations

Terry T. Nixon is Director of Operations for The Sentencing Project. In this capacity he is responsible for day-to-day operations of the office including coordination of financial functions, management of employee benefits, contract commitments and expenditures, and liaison with the agency’s board of directors.

Prior to joining The Sentencing Project, he worked as Managing Director of Operations for the Institute for Higher Education Policy.  Before that, he was Director of Administration and Human Resources for the National Academy of Social Insurance. Nixon earned his B.A. from Albany State University (GA) and his M.A. in Applied Sciences from Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL.

Database Manager

Serawit Mekonnen manages The Sentencing Project’s database of advocates, allies, media contacts and donors. She previously managed data for a trade association and performed web design and content coordination for a consulting firm. Originally from Ethiopia, Mekonnen holds a Diploma in Office Management from Commercial College of Addis Ababa and a BSc Honors in Information Technology from Middlesex University, London.

Senior Research Analyst

Dr. Ashley Nellis has an academic and professional background in analyzing criminal justice policies and practice, and has extensive experience in analyzing disparities among youth of color in the juvenile justice system.  She leads The Sentencing Project’s research and legislative activities in juvenile justice reform and serves on several youth-serving coalitions and working groups in the Washington, D.C. area.  She regularly delivers testimony, authors articles and other publications, and conducts research.  She is actively engaged in federal and state efforts to eliminate life without parole sentences for juveniles and to reconsider lengthy sentences for all prisoners. She received her Ph.D. in Justice, Law and Society from American University’s School of Public Affairs.

Director of Advocacy

Nicole D. Porter is the Director of Advocacy.  She manages The Sentencing Project’s state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Her advocacy has supported criminal justice reforms in several states including Kentucky, Missouri, and California. Porter was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by Essence Magazine in November 2014 for her work to eliminate mass incarceration.

Since joining The Sentencing Project in 2009, Porter’s work has been cited in several major media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. She has given a number of talks on state sentencing policy, collateral consequences, and racial disparity to various audiences including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the United Methodist Women’s Assembly.

Porter is the former director of the Texas ACLU’s Prison & Jail Accountability Project (PJAP). PJAP’s mission was to monitor the conditions of confinement in state jails and prisons. Porter advocated in the Texas legislature to promote felony enfranchisement reforms, to eliminate prison rape, and improve prison medical care. Porter graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School. Her master’s thesis addressed exploring self employment among formerly incarcerated African Americans. Porter received her BA in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She also studied African Politics at the University of Ghana, West Africa.

State Advocacy Associate

Joshua Rovner is the State Advocacy Associate and manages a portfolio of juvenile justice issues for the Sentencing Project, including juveniles sentenced to life without parole, expungement, and school discipline issues.

An expert in child and adolescent well-being, Rovner has worked on juvenile development issues, such as access to primary and mental health care, tobacco prevention, and comprehensive health education. He has a master of public policy from the George Washington University and a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Rochester. Rovner previously worked at the School-Based Health Alliance, Metro TeenAIDS, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the Council of the District of Columbia.


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