Leah Sakala is a policy associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she focuses on criminal and juvenile justice reform. She manages projects to identify and address the drivers of state prison populations, evaluate juvenile justice reform efforts, and develop strategies to broaden public safety investment to include community partners and more effectively respond to local priorities.
Sakala has a decade of experience conducting research to inform local, state, and national policy conversations about criminal justice and incarceration practices. Before joining Urban, she was a senior policy analyst at the Prison Policy Initiative. She led research projects to document the impact of mass incarceration on issues ranging from voting rights to family communication, and she worked with government officials and other stakeholders to develop policy solutions. Her research has been featured in major media outlets, such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, and the Atlantic and has received praise from the National Institute of Corrections.
Sakala holds a BA in American studies from Smith College and dual MPP and MBA in nonprofit management degrees from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.