Historically, criminal justice policy has been driven by emotions and politics. I entered this field with an interest in generating knowledge on effective criminal justice policies and providing guidance on improvements in justice system operations and efficiencies in the hopes of elevating that policy conversation to a level of discourse guided by facts. My colleagues and I at the Justice Policy Center aim to put objective research findings into the hands of policymakers and practitioners so they can make sound decisions about how best to improve the safety and well-being of communities across the country.
Nancy La Vigne is vice president for justice policy at the Urban Institute. She publishes research on prisoner reentry, criminal justice technologies, crime prevention, policing, and the spatial analysis of crime and criminal behavior. Her work appears in scholarly journals and practitioner publications and has made her a sought-after spokesperson on related subjects.
Before being appointed vice president, La Vigne was a senior research associate at Urban, directing groundbreaking research on prisoner reentry. Before joining Urban, La Vigne was founding director of the Crime Mapping Research Center at the National Institute of Justice. She later was special assistant to the assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs within the US Department of Justice. She has also been research director for the Texas sentencing commission, research fellow at the Police Executive Research Forum, and consultant to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
La Vigne was executive director for the bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform and was founding chair of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance. She served on the board of directors for the Consortium of Social Science Associations from 2015 through 2018. She has testified before Congress and has been featured on NPR and in the Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune.
La Vigne holds a BA in government and economics from Smith College, an MA in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in criminal justice from Rutgers University.