Learning Community

The Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community (EAJLC) is a carefully organized collaborative learning environment that brings together researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and advocates twice a year over a three-year period in order to create more developmentally appropriate, effective and fairer criminal justice responses for youths ages 18 – 25. Participants of the Learning Community are all engaged in some aspect of this work in their professional pursuits.

Despite the fact that emerging adults experience some of the worst outcomes in our justice system, little attention has been paid to the research that would support new and improved justice system responses. The Learning Community’s goals are to provide researchers and policymakers access to one another in order to increase learning, practice and policy innovations by translating academic research into effective policies and developing opportunities to research burgeoning practices that contribute to a more equitable treatment of this population.


To read the Learning Community’s publications

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Members of the Community

Researchers, Academics & Research support

Bianca E. Bersani is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts. Bianca’s research involves the study of patterns and predictors of offending over the life course, desistance and persistence in offending, family and intimate relationship dynamics, divergence in offending across race/ethnicity, gender and immigration status, and the application of innovative methodologies to understand mechanisms of behavioral change. She is a 2011 WEB Du Bois Fellow of the National Institute of Justice. She has worked with the Pew Research Center and other general media outlets to translate her research and increase accessibility to a wider audience. Bianca received her B.A. in Sociology and Psychology, and her Masters in Sociology from University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She earned her Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, College Park.   

Jamie Fader is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice of Temple University. Jamie’s primary research interests are in urban social inequality, juvenile corrections, desistance and prisoner reentry, transitions to adulthood, and qualitative research methods. Her current research includes: (1) an community study of Millennial men in a high-reentry neighborhood in Philadelphia; (2) a long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial measuring the impact of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) for youth at risk of gang involvement; and (3) an analysis of representations of poverty in urban ethnographies 1899-present.  Jamie is the author of Falling Back: Incarceration and Adulthood among Urban Youth (2013), which won the 2016 Michael J. Hindelang award for "most outstanding contribution to research in criminology) and the 2016 ACJS outstanding book award for an "extraordinary contribution to the study of crime and criminal justice." She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas (Tom) Grisso, a clinical psychologist, is Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and formerly Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program. Tom consults to federal and state programs on policy and forensic practice in the juvenile justice system.  His work has focused on improving forensic evaluations for the courts and informing policy and law for youths in the juvenile justice system and for persons with mental disorders.  Several of his fifteen books have been influential in setting standards for forensic mental health evaluations. He pioneered concepts on which forensic evaluations of several legal competencies have been developed, especially competence to stand trial and (with Paul Appelbaum) competence to consent to treatment.  His contributions to juvenile justice policy and practice have included his studies of juveniles’ capacities to waive Miranda rights and their competence to stand trial, as well as the development (with Richard Barnum) of a mental health screening tool now used in juvenile detention and corrections in over 40 states.  Research performed with his colleagues in the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice was relied upon by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decisions abolishing the death penalty for juveniles and limiting the sentence of life without parole for crimes committed during adolescence. Tom received his B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Ashland University and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona.

Nikki Jones is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and also has a faculty affiliation with the Center for the Study of Law and Society and the Center for Race and Gender. Her areas of expertise include urban ethnography, race and ethnic relations and criminology and criminal justice, with a special emphasis on the intersection of race, gender, and justice. Nikki has published three books, including the sole-authored Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner City Violence (2010).  Her next book, The Chosen Ones: Black Men, Violence and the Politics of Redemption, is based on several years of field research in a San Francisco neighborhood, examining how Black men work together to change their lives and the lives of young people in their neighborhood. Her current research draws on the systematic analysis of video records that document routine encounters between police and civilians, including young Black men’s frequent encounters with the police. Nikki is the past-Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Race, Gender and Class Section (2012-13) and has served on the editorial boards of the American Sociological Review and Gender & Society. Nikki received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.

John H. Laub is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park. His areas of research include crime and the life course, crime and public policy, and the history of criminology. He has published widely including Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life, co-authored with Robert Sampson (1993), and Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70 (with Robert Sampson, 2003), which analyzes longitudinal data from a long-term follow-up study of juvenile offenders from a classic study by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck. Both books have won three major awards: The Albert J. Reiss, Jr, Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Crime, Law, and Deviance Section; the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences; and the Michael J. Hindelang Book Award from the American Society of Criminology. From July 22, 2010 to January 4, 2013, John served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice in the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. In 1996, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology, in 2002-2003 he served as the President of the American Society of Criminology, and in 2005 he received the Edwin H. Sutherland Award from the American Society of Criminology. John, along with his colleague, Robert Sampson, was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2011 for their research on how and why offenders stop offending. In 2015, he was awarded the Thorsten Sellin Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. John received his B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, and his Masters and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at the State University of New York – Albany.

Wayne Osgood is Professor Emeritus of Criminology and Sociology at Penn State. Wayne has conducted research on a variety of topics concerning delinquency during adolescence and early adulthood. He was a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and edited the volume On Your Own Without a Net: The Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Populations.  The major focus of his recent work, PROSPER Peers Project, has been the connection of adolescents' friendship networks to their delinquency and substance use. His published research has addressed the contribution of routine activities to offending, peer influence, criminal careers, and the generality of deviance.  In addition to these topics concerning the causes of offending, he has conducted research on a variety of programs for juvenile offenders. Wayne received his A.B. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Carla Shedd is an Associate Professor of Urban Education at The Graduate Center at City University of New York. Carla received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University. Her research and teaching interests focus on: crime and criminal justice; race/ethnicity; law; inequality; and urban sociology. Carla’s first book, Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice (October 2015Russell Sage), has won multiple academic awards, including the 2016 C. Wright Mills Award.  Unequal City examines Chicago public school students' perceptions of injustice and contact with police within and across various schools and neighborhoods, and deeply probes the intersections of race, place, education, and the expansion of the American carceral state. Carla’s current research focuses on New York City’s juvenile justice system investigating how young people’s linked institutional experiences influence their placement on and movement along the carceral continuum, and is the foundation of her second book project, tentatively entitled: When Protection is the Punishment: America’s Juvenile Court System and the Carceral Continuum.

Vivian Tseng leads the William T. Grant Foundation’s grantmaking programs and its initiatives to connect research, policy, and practice to improve child and youth outcomes. In 2009, she launched the Foundation’s initiative on the use of research evidence in policy and practice. That program has generated over 50 funded studies and informed the grantmaking programs of private and public funders across the country. She has been instrumental in the growing field of research-practice partnerships, including supporting the creation of field-defining resources and the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships. Vivian has longstanding interests in racial equity in higher education and philanthropy. Under her leadership, the Foundation has strengthened its internal diversity, equity, and inclusion work, increased its grantmaking and capacity support to underrepresented researchers, and developed a program to support stronger mentoring relationships for graduate students of color. Vivian regularly writes and speaks to international and domestic audiences on evidence-informed policy and practice. Her studies of racial, cultural, and immigration influences on child development have been published in Child Development and her research on improving social settings and promoting social change have appeared in the American Journal of Community Psychology. She received her Ph.D. from NYU and her B.A. from UCLA. She serves on the Boards of the Forum for Youth Investment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. She was previously on the faculty in Psychology and Asian American studies at CSUN.

Christopher (Chris) Uggen is Regents Professor, Martindale Chair, and Distinguished McKnight Professor in Sociology, Law, and Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He studies crime, law, and inequality from a life course perspective, firm in the belief that sound research can help build a more just and peaceful world. With Jeff Manza, he wrote Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy (2006), and he publishes extensively in criminology, criminal justice, law, and sociology. Current projects include comparative study of reentry from different types of institutions, the long-term consequences of harassment and discrimination, crime and justice after genocide, monetary sanctions, and the health effects of incarceration. His outreach and engagement projects include editing Contexts Magazine (2007-2011) andTheSocietyPages.Org (both with Doug Hartmann), a book series and multimedia social science hub that drew four million readers last year. He was the 2017-2018 Vice President of the American Sociological Association and is currently running for president of the American Society of Criminology.

Bruce Western is the Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice and Co-Director of the Justice Lab at Columbia University. His research has examined the causes, scope, and consequences of the historic growth in U.S. prison populations. Current projects include a randomized experiment assessing the effects of criminal justice fines and fees on misdemeanor defendants in Oklahoma City, and a field study of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania state prisons. Western is also the Principal Investigator of the Square One Project that aims re-imagine the public policy response to violence under conditions of poverty and racial inequality. He was the Vice Chair of the National Academy of Sciences panel on the causes and consequences of high incarceration rates in the United States. He is the author of Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison(Russell Sage Foundation, 2018), and Punishment and Inequality in America (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar, and a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. Western received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was born in Canberra, Australia.

Practitioners, PolicyMakers & Advocates

Karen Friedman Agnifilo is the Chief Assistant District Attorney at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. In addition to overseeing the work of the Office, she is also responsible for overseeing all policy-related matters, including the Office's Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, which seeks to transform the Criminal Justice System by investing more than $800 million criminal asset forfeiture funds in projects that improve public safety, prevent crime, and promote a fair and efficient justice system.  Prior to rejoining the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2010 as Executive ADA and Chief of the Trial Division, Karen served as the General Counsel to the New York City Mayor's Office's Criminal Justice Coordinator.  In that capacity, she managed multi-agency criminal justice policy initiatives and projects, and helped shape New York City's criminal justice legislative and policy agendas. Her areas of focus have included human trafficking - including serving as the chair of the New York City Anti Human Trafficking Task Force - as well as internet safety, sexual assault, DNA, domestic violence, mental health, technology projects, juvenile justice, identity theft, and fraud. A veteran of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Karen previously served for 14 years as an Assistant District Attorney, including four years as Deputy Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit. She also served in the Homicide Investigation Unit, the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, and the Asian Gang Unit. Karen is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, and holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Quincy L. Booth is the Director for the D.C. Department of Corrections (DCDOC). Prior to being appointed Director, Quincy served as Acting Director and Management Support Deputy Director for DCDOC. During his two year tenure as Management Support Deputy Director, he implemented an organizational realignment for his division and expanded key functions including EEO, Diversity and Policy. As Chief of Staff in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, Quincy collaborated with the District’s public safety agencies, other District agencies, City Council, and federal justice and interstate partners to provide expertise in strategic planning, government operations, and performance management.  He also provided guidance in enhancing business processes and developing critical local and federal initiatives. In the role of Deputy Director with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Quincy oversaw day to day operations and ensured effective engagement of the District’s criminal justice partners.   He was also charged with compliance and monitoring of court involved juveniles designated to the DCDOC. Throughout his career, Quincy has demonstrated a passion and talent for consensus building and strengthening relationships within organizations and the community. He continues mentoring disadvantaged youth and supporting organizations committed to providing services aimed at elevating this population. Quincy holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a B.S. in Marketing.

Elizabeth Calvin is senior advocate at Human Rights Watch, working for the rights of children, youth, and young adults. She conducts research on human rights violations and pushes for change through policy and legal advocacy. Prior to being at HRW she was the founding director of an innovative statewide youth legal rights organization, a three-time governor-appointee to Washington’s sentencing guidelines commission, and a criminal defense attorney. In California, she has led drafting teams and strategy efforts to end the use of extreme prison sentences for youth and young adults, working to pass laws to reform juvenile life without parole sentences, creating a ground-breaking parole process for young people sentenced to long prison terms, and changing how the state decides whether to send children to adult court, among other things. Last year, California became the first state in the country to prohibit prosecution of youth under 16 in adult court. In 2015, she led the drafting team for the youth portions of Prop 57 and was on the campaign steering committee for the measure, which passed with 64% of the vote. She prioritizes work that is in coalition and with the leadership of people directly impacted by human rights violations. Her most important work is accomplished in partnership, with leaders who are people formerly or currently incarcerated, people dealing with violence and the injustice of the criminal system, and survivors of crime.

Hon. Paula M. Carey was appointed Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court in July 2013 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to a five year term and she was re-appointed in 2018 for an additional five year term.  She had served as the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court since October 2007 until being appointed as Chief Justice of the Trial Court.  She was originally appointed an Associate Justice of the Norfolk Probate and Family Court in 2001.  Prior to her appointment to the bench in January 2001, Chief Justice Carey was a partner in the firm of Carey & Mooney, PC, where she specialized in domestic relations matters.  She has lectured and authored material for numerous publications and educational programs in the area of domestic relations, both as a practitioner and as a judge.  She is a graduate of New England School of Law.  She is actively involved with the National Center for State Courts on the National Judicial Opioid Task Force and on the Mental Health Advisory Committee. During her career she has been honored by organizations including the Massachusetts Bar Association with the Daniel J. Toomey Excellence in the Judiciary Award, the Massachusetts Judges Conference, the Middlesex Bar Association, MCLE, Mass. Association of Women Lawyers and the Mass. Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service from the Boston Bar Association in 2013 and was the Dean’s Reception Honoree at New England Law for her commitment to public service and dedication to the law school and its students.  She received the Greater Boston Fiduciary Law American Inn of Court Award of Excellence and the Mass Judges Conference President’s Award of 2016. Most recently, in 2018 she received the Peter J. Muse Award for contributions to the community.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Clarke, J.D.,  is the founder and president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), a non-profit civil advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring human rights for all children and young adults in conflict with the law.  JJI has raised the age of juvenile court from 17 to 18, ended automatic adult prosecution for 15 year olds, required lawyers during interrogation for children under the age of 15, ended detention of children under the age of 13 in Cook County, reduced incarceration by two-thirds and closed three juvenile prisons. In addition to JJI, Clarke co-founded the Midwest Juvenile Defender Center, and the North American Juvenile Justice Network, and was a founding member of the National Juvenile Justice Network.  She is a frequent speaker and author, including Disrupting Injustice:  Fifty Years Post Miranda and Gault: A Call to Action to Re-Examine the Rights of Children in Conflict with the Law, 62 S.D.L.Rev. 608 (Issue 3, 2017). Prior to the Juvenile Justice Initiative, Clarke served as attorney and policy advocate in both the Office of the Cook County Public Defender and the Office of the State Appellate Defender.

Joshua (Josh) Dohan is the Director of the Youth Advocacy Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services of Massachusetts. He became a public defender in 1988 and joined the Youth Advocacy Division at its inception, as its first staff attorney in 1992 before assuming the role of Director in 1999. Josh is President of the Board for the Youth Advocacy Foundation. He is a founding Member of the Equal Justice Partnership, a member of the LeadBoston class of 2001, a member of the Institutional Review Board of Tufts University, a member of the Massachusetts Probation Advisory Committee, and a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Institute on Race and Justice. Josh is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Ghana 1982-84) and recently completed a Fellowship with the International Legal Foundation in the West Bank. Josh received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. 

Kevin Donahue is the Deputy City Administrator and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice in District of Columbia. In both roles, he brings an analytical approach that utilizes data to deliver tangible results. In his current role in the Bowser Administration, Kevin works to implement the Mayor’s vision for public safety reforms and improvements. He has helped to implement reforms to prevent the involvement of young adults in the justice system and to reform how they are treated in it. He also has overseen the transformation of the city’s forensic crime lab, the most significant investment in Emergency Medical Services reform in the city’s recent history, the expansion of its 911 and 311 call center, the implementation of the broadest rollout of police body-worn cameras in the country, the expansion of mental health and job training services for those involved in the justice system, the creation of an office of violence prevention, and other reforms throughout the city’s public safety agencies. Previously, Kevin served as an appointee in the Obama Administration, working as the Executive Director of the Federal Government’s Performance Improvement Council and as the Director of Performance Management and Strategic Planning at the US Department of the Treasury. Kevin earned his undergraduate degree in Government from Georgetown University, and his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Laura Fine is serving her first full term as the State Senator of the 9th District in Illinois, which encompasses Chicago’s Northern suburbs. Senator Fine serves as a member of the Appropriations II, Environment and Conservation, Insurance, Local Government, and Public Health Committees and as Vice Chair of the Human Services committee.Prior to serving in the Senate, Senator Fine served as the State Representative for the 17 th District for six years. Her legislative focus has been on consumer protection, environment and youth and young adults. Some of her current legislation include, expanding insurance coverage for treatment of eating disorders, implementing meaningful rate review for proposed health insurance premium increases, and incorporating key provisions from the Affordable Care Act that are not already the law in Illinois into the Illinois Insurance Code so that those protections remain even if Congress repeals the ACA. In the 99 th General Assembly session, she chaired House Committee on Youth and Young Adults and has since been working on legislation to raise the age of juvenile courts to 21. Prior to being elected to the state legislature, Senator Fine was an instructor in the Political Science Department at Northeastern Illinois University and served as the Clerk of Northfield Township.  Senator Fine has also worked in radio and television news for various media outlets throughout the Midwest. Senator Fine holds a B.A. in telecommunications from Indiana University, an M.A. in political science from Northeastern Illinois University, and is a graduate of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership; graduate of The Council of State Governments Toll Fellowship program; graduate of Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development; an Edgar Fellow; member, Legislative Committee of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission, Executive Committee member of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community, Kiwanis Club of Glenview-Northbrook, Rotary Club of Glenview Sunrise, Glenview-Glencoe League of Women Voters. Senator Fine lives in Glenview with her husband, Michael and their two sons.

Francis (“Frankie”) V. Guzman is the Director of California Juvenile Justice Initiative and a staff attorney at National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) where he works to eliminate the practice of prosecuting and incarcerating children in California’s adult criminal justice system. Raised in a poor, mostly immigrant community plagued by crime and drugs, Frankie experienced his parents’ divorce and his family’s subsequent homelessness as a child, the life-imprisonment of his 16-year-old brother, and lost numerous friends to violence. At age 15, he was arrested for armed robbery and was sentenced to serve 15 years in the California Youth Authority. Released on parole after six years, Frankie attended law school and became an expert in juvenile law and policy with a focus on ending the prosecution of youth as adults. Through partnerships with community organizations and advocacy groups, Frankie has helped lead the effort to promote alternative sentencing and local treatment for youth charged with serious offenses in California and reduce the number of youth prosecuted as adults and serving time in adult prisons. He helped to pass recent landmark legislation in California on youth offender parole hearings, and juvenile fitness hearings. More recently, he played a significant role in developing the youth justice portion of the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 in partnership with the Office of California Gov. Jerry Brown. Frankie holds a J.D from UCLA School of Law.

Dana Kaplan is the Deputy Director of Justice Initiatives and Close Rikers at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), where she leads the office’s efforts to Close Rikers Island.  Prior to her current role at MOCJ, Ms. Kaplan coordinated the Mayor’s Action Plan (MAP) for Neighborhood Safety, a $210.5 million multi-agency initiative to reduce violence in public housing targeted at the fifteen NYCHA developments that have some of the highest levels of violent crime in the city, and co-chaired the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline.  Previously, Ms. Kaplan was the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, a New Orleans based non-profit legal and advocacy organization.  The organization’s accomplishments under her leadership include the development of juvenile detention center standards statewide, the revision of the New Orleans school discipline code and policies for school security officers at the Recovery School District, and bringing the state of Louisiana into compliance with the US Supreme Court decision that life without parole for juveniles for non-homicide offenses was unconstitutional.  She has also been a Soros Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) focused on detention reform, where she worked with community groups and government on developing alternatives to detention and downsizing local jails in states including Tennessee, California, Ohio, Louisiana and New York.  She was the State-wide Organizer for the New York Campaign for Telephone Justice, a partnership between CCR and two prison family organizations that successfully reduced the cost of all phone calls from New York State prisons by fifty percent.  Ms. Kaplan has also been on staff at the Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project, and has consulted with national organizations including The National Resource Center on Prisons and Communities and the National Education Association (NEA).  Dana holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and received the John Gardner Fellowship for Public Service and a Masters from the CUNY Graduate Center with a certificate in American Studies. 

Michael (Mike) Lawlor is a tenured Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven. He served as a prosecutor in the state of Connecticut’s Superior Court following his graduation from law school in 1983. In 1986, he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives and served there for 24 years. From 1995 until 2011, he was chair of the House Judiciary Committee, taking a leadership role in a wide variety of criminal justice reforms. In 2004, he was appointed to the Select Committee of Inquiry, which conducted an impeachment investigation of former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland. He was a founding board member of the Council of State Governments Justice Center in the late 1990s and has served on numerous national criminal justice reform commissions. In 2011, then Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy appointed Prof. Lawlor as undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning. During his eight years in this position, he developed and implemented a wide variety of initiatives, including reducing crime, bail reform, addressing racial disparities, juvenile justice reform, post Sandy Hook gun control initiatives, abolition of the death penalty, ending mass incarceration, and drug policy reform.

Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson was appointed in 2017 Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the Office of Justice Initiatives (OJI), which is tasked with ensuring meaningful access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal and family courts, regardless of income, background, or special needs. In service of this mission, the OJI’s Access to Justice Program administers pro bono attorney and other volunteer programs, self-help services, Help Centers, and many other resources designed to serve unrepresented litigants. Additionally, Judge Mendelson directs several child welfare and juvenile justice court initiatives, including the Office of Court Administration’s Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, and the implementation of the seminal new law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State. Judge Mendelson also remains active on the bench. She travels to New York State’s correctional facilities to preside over pro se trials in her capacity as a Court of Claims judge and serves in Supreme Criminal Term, NY County. She most recently presided over the Youth Part in NY County Supreme Court, hearing cases of children charged with violent felonies under the Juvenile Offender law. After representing clients in New York City Housing Court, Supreme Court and Family Court, Judge Mendelson joined the court system as a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens County Family Court. She later became a Family Court Judge in 2003, a Queens County Supervising Family Court Judge in 2008, and a year later, she was elevated to Administrative Judge of all New York City Family Courts. She maintains active membership and leadership positions in several bar associations and committees involving family law and juvenile justice.

Katherine (Katy) Weinstein Miller is the Chief of Programs and Initiatives in the Office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, where she oversees the office's Collaborative Courts, Mental Health, Neighborhood Courts and Juvenile Units, as well as initiatives focused on restorative justice and young adults.  She is a member of Columbia University Justice Lab’s Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community, the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Criminal Justice Task Force, and the recently-launched Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Juvenile Justice Reform. Prior to joining the DA's Office, Katy worked at the San Francisco Mayor's Office, where she oversaw juvenile justice policy and program development, at the Delancey Street Foundation, where she worked in collaboration with the City to reform San Francisco’s juvenile justice system, and at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, where she oversaw strategic planning and programs for individuals returning from the criminal justice system.  Before entering the field of policy and programs, Katy was a deputy public defender at the San Diego Public Defender's Office and an associate at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Katy holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marc Schindler is the Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington D.C, a national research and policy organization working on juvenile and criminal justice issues. A dedicated justice system reformer, Marc has served in a variety of roles: He was a partner at a DC-based nonprofit philanthropic investment organization, Venture Philanthropy Partners; served in a variety of leadership roles at DC's juvenile justice agency, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), including as Chief of Staff and Interim Director; worked as a Staff Attorney with the Youth Law Center, advocating for the rights of young people in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems; and served as a Baltimore City public defender. Marc is a recognized expert in the field, providing commentary in the national media, including on CNN and NPR, and is also the author of numerous articles and book chapters. Marc earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law.

Steven (Steve) Tompkins has served as the elected Sheriff of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, since November 2014, and manages all operations at the Suffolk County House of Correction, the Nashua Street Jail and the Civil Process Division. In addition to providing care, custody and rehabilitative support for inmates and pre–trial detainees, Steve also oversees a management, security and administrative staff of over 1,000. As the former Chief of External Affairs for the Department, he created the innovative “Common Ground Institute,” a vocational training and re–entry program that teaches marketable vocation skills in a classroom setting. He also created the “Choice Program” which sends trained officers into the schools of Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere to deliver on the program’s mission of helping young people to make positive choices for future success while reinforcing the theme of respect for oneself and for others around them. Steve is an engaged community leader, as Chair of the Advisory Board of Roca, Inc., as a member of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and the Boston Private Industry Council.  He served as former Board Chair of the Sportsman’s Tennis Club, as a former member of the Boards for City Year Boston, and Roxbury Community College. Steve was also elected President of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association in 2015. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College and a Master’s Degree from UMass-Boston, completed the LeadBoston program in 2004, and is an alumnus of the Executive Session on Community Corrections at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Columbia Emerging Adult Justice Project Team

Lael Elizabeth Hiam Chester is Director of the Emerging Adult Project at Columbia University’s Justice Lab and leads the national and international research on Emerging Adult Justice. Lael is an attorney who has focused her career on juvenile, criminal and civil rights law and policy. After graduating from Barnard College and Harvard Law School, she was the Albert Martin Sacks Clinical Fellow at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard and then joined the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. For 12 years, she served as Executive Director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ), a statewide non-profit dedicated to improving the juvenile justice system. Lael led the successful Justice for Kids Campaign, ending the practice in Massachusetts of automatically prosecuting and sentencing all 17 year olds as adults, regardless of the severity of the offense. Her expertise on other advocacy campaigns include school-to-prison pipeline, parent-child privilege, racial disparities and over-use of secure confinement.

Selen Siringil Perker is a Senior Research Associate with the Emerging Adult Project at the Justice Lab. Her work aims to bridge academic research on emerging/young adult justice with policy and practice at all stages, from research design to implementation and dissemination. As an international attorney and justice reform specialist, she works closely with government officials, justice leaders and international organizations, including the World Bank and UNDP, to assist local efforts to measure and drive criminal justice reform in the United States and abroad. Previously, Selen was a Research Fellow with the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School for the Indicators for Development: Safety and Justice project. She holds an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School, and a Master’s in International and European Law from the University of Paris I (Panthéon – Sorbonne). More on Selen's work and publications can be found on her website.

Vincent (Vinny) Schiraldi is a Senior Research Scientist at the Columbia School of Social Work and co-Director of the Columbia Justice Lab. He has extensive experience in public life, founding the policy think tank, the Justice Policy Institute, then moving to government as director of the juvenile corrections in Washington DC, as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, and Senior Policy Adviser to the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. Schiraldi gained a national reputation as a fearless reformer who emphasized the humane and decent treatment of the men, women, and children under his correctional supervision. He pioneered efforts at community-based alternatives to incarceration in NYC and Washington DC. Schiraldi received an MSW from New York University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University.

Maya Sussman is a Research and Policy Manager with the Emerging Adult Project at the Justice Lab. In this role, she conducts and helps disseminate law and policy research regarding 18- to 25-year olds in the juvenile and criminal legal systems in an effort to reform system practices. Prior to joining the Justice Lab, Maya conducted legal analyses of juvenile justice system practices to support a corrections expert’s testimony in a lawsuit challenging the unjust treatment of juveniles in state correctional facilities. Maya also worked with girls in a non-secure placement facility in Queens, New York. Maya holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. During law school, Maya served as a law and policy intern at Lawyers for Children in New York City, the Children’s Defense Fund of New York, and the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice (Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit). Maya received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from New York University.