David Pitts
David Pitts
Vice President, Justice Policy
Justice Policy Center
I have seen firsthand the irreparable damage caused by incarceration. I joined Urban to push for sustained, meaningful change in how we think about prisons and jails in the United States.

David Pitts is vice president for justice policy and director of the Prison Research and Innovation Initiative, a multiyear project that leverages research to promote transparency, innovation, and well-being in US prisons. Pitts uses evidence-based strategies to promote prison reform that benefits both incarcerated people and correctional staff, and toward that end, he has partnered with an array of advocacy organizations, nonprofit service providers, and departments of corrections. His work has addressed a variety of topics in this area, including restrictive housing, prison education, visitation, and correctional staff well-being.

In addition to his criminal legal system research, Pitts has written extensively on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in public policy. He has consulted for government organizations at all levels, from small cities to federal agencies, and has taught a variety of courses to graduate students in public policy and criminal justice programs. He is currently an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and he spent a decade in academia as a tenure-track and tenured professor prior to his work in applied criminal legal research.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Pitts earned a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College; master’s degrees from Indiana University and the University of California, Irvine; and a PhD from the University of Georgia.

Research Areas
Crime, justice, and safety
Race and equity
Racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice