Leah Sakala is a senior policy associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she coleads a team focused on criminal and juvenile justice reform. Her work includes collaborating with policymakers and advocacy organizations to advance reform discussions, evaluating the impacts of criminal and juvenile justice policy change and supporting strategies to build effective community-based systems for safety, healing, and accountability.
Sakala has a decade of experience conducting research to inform local, state, and national criminal justice policy conversations. 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, USA Today, and the Atlantic.
Sakala holds a BA in American studies from Smith College and an MPP and MBA in nonprofit management from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.