Prison Research and Innovation Initiative: Advisory Board

Get to know our Advisory Board for the Prison Research and Innovation Initiative, an effort to infuse prisons with research, evidence, transparency, and innovation to promote the well-being of people who live and work there. This distinguished group includes advocates on behalf of incarcerated people, researchers, corrections officers/leadership, state leaders, and union representatives.

 Dara Baldwin headshot

Dara Baldwin is the Director of National Policy for the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR). CDR is a not-for-profit, community-based advocacy and service organization for people with all types of disabilities. She has worked on disability policy for ten years in multiple positions. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Low Income Housing Coalition and served as a Trustee for the American Society for Public Administration’s Board of Insurance Trustee for two terms. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rutgers University and was a Pi Alpha Alpha Honors Graduate with a Masters of Public Administration from Rutgers University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration. She received a 2009 and 2010 Presidential Citation Award for her work in the American Society for Public Administration. Ms. Baldwin also serves as an Associate Member of the National Academy of Public Administration’s Standing Panel on Social Equity. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey. 

 Ronald Day headshot

Ronald Day is the Vice President of Programs at the Fortune Society. Ronald is passionate about reentry, promoting desistance, dismantling mass incarceration, and addressing the stigma of incarceration. He provides oversight for Fortune’s Education and Employment Services, and for Individualized Correction Achievement Network (ICAN), a New York City Department of Correction (NYCDOC) initiative that provides pre and post release services to people incarcerated in NYC jails.  Ronald formerly served as the AVPof Fortune’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP), which advocates to reduce reliance on incarceration, promote model programing for the incarcerated population, change laws and policies that create barriers for successful reintegration, and foster a just and equitable criminal justice system.  Ronald has been the recipient of several awards, including the Citizen’s Against Recidivism Bridge Builder Award, and the Justice Research Fellowship. He is the former host of Fortune’s original show Both Side of the Barson Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Ronald has a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the CUNY Graduate Center / John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College (CUNY). Ronald is also formerly incarcerated.  

 Michele Deitch headshot

Michele Deitch holds a joint appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and at the University of Texas School of Law.  She is an attorney with over 30 years of experience working on criminal justice and juvenile justice policy issues with state and local government officials, corrections administrators, judges, and advocates. Her areas of specialty include independent oversight of correctional institutions, prison and jail conditions, the management of youth in custody, and juveniles in the adult criminal justice system.  Prof. Deitch co-chairs the American Bar Association's Subcommittee on Correctional Oversight, and helped draft the ABA's Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners. She has authored numerous articles about correctional oversight, including a 50-state inventory of prison oversight models, as well as many reports on juvenile justice that have received national attention. Her TEDxtalk, "Why are we trying kids as adults?" was named a TEDxEditor's Pick in January 2015.She has also had a significant impact on public policy through her legislative testimony and work with key legislators, including her work on the Sandra Bland Act in Texas.  She also chaired the Travis County (TX) Sheriff’s Advisory Committee on the Women’s Jail, which proposed a reimagined, gender-responsive facility for women in the jail. She holds degrees from Harvard Law School, Oxford University, and Amherst College.

 Mateo de La Torre headshot

Mateo de la Torre is a transgender Latino from Tijuana, Mexico. As the Racial and Economic Justice Policy Advocate at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) he helps shape the organization’s advocacy and policy work for transgender people of color and those with low or no-income. There, he handles issues related to sex work, immigration, and the criminal justice system. Mateo's background is in community organizing, and previous to his work at NCTE he headed Latinx and AAPI outreach for the Affordable Care Act at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 Amy Fettig headshot

Amy Fettig serves as the Deputy Director for the ACLU's National Prison Project (NPP). At NPP, she litigates federal class action prison conditions cases under the Eighth Amendment. Her practice focuses on claims regarding medical and mental health care in prison, solitary confinement, prison rape, and comprehensive reform in juvenile facilities. She also directs the ACLU’s Stop Solitary campaign seeking to end the practice of long-term isolation in our nation’s prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers through public policy reform, legislation, litigation and public education. Amy is a leading member of the national coalition seeking to end the practice of shackling pregnant women prisoners and works with a wide range of ACLU affiliates on both anti-shackling campaigns and their advocacy strategies around women’s health in prison. A national expert on prisoner rights law, she provides technical legal assistance and advice to advocacy groups and lawyers around the country and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches courses on public interest advocacy. Prior to law school, Ms. Fettig worked with women prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families in New York City. She holds a B.A., with distinction, Carleton College; a Master’s from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs; and a J.D. from Georgetown University. Ms. Fettig is a member of the New York State Bar (2002) and the Bar for the District of Columbia (2006).

 Jocelyn Fontaine headshot

Jocelyn Fontaine is the Director of Criminal Justice Research at Arnold Ventures. responsible for developing and managing a rigorous research agenda. She is committed to the use of rigorous social science methods to change policy and practice and contribute to the public discourse on crime, victimization, and the justice system. She identifies research gaps and promising opportunities for research to inform policy reform in the areas of fines and fees, prison reform, community supervision, and reintegration. Prior to joining Arnold Ventures, Jocelyn was a senior researcher in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she directed projects on corrections and reentry issues, gun violence, violence reduction programs, and police-community trust-building efforts. Jocelyn has significant expertise with multi-site evaluation studies, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, interfacing with various justice system stakeholders, community groups and affected communities, and translating research evidence into policy and practice. Before joining Urban, Fontaine worked on corrections issues under the Pew Charitable Trusts's Public Safety Performance Project after working as a research assistant on violence and victimization issues in the Office of Research and Evaluation at the National Institute of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice). Jocelyn received her doctorate in justice and public policy from the School of Public Affairs at the American University and her bachelor's in sociology/criminology from Villanova University.

 Wayne Ford headshot

Wayne Ford is the founder and CEO of Wayne Ford & Associates consulting firm, where he helps non-profits in the areas of civic engagement, fundraising, board management, diversity projects and to recruit and retain minority employees. Wayne Ford & Associates also works with non-profit community organizations to develop projects for high risk youth. He served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1996 until 2010. While there, Ford served on the Joint Prison Restructuring Committee and the State Government Accountability Committee, and he was Co-Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Overrepresentation of Blacks in Prison. He also authored Iowa’s landmark Minority Impact Legislation, the first such legislation in the nation, which states no new judicial law can be approved until the impact on minorities can be evaluated. In addition he recently founded the Wayne Ford Minority Impact Institute with a national advisory board based on that legislation. Wayne was the executive director and founder of Urban Dreams, a non-profit committed to serving the needs of Des Moines Inner City Residents from 1985-2017.

 Michelle Jones headshot

Michelle Jones is a third-year doctoral student in the American Studies program New York University.  She is interested in excavating the collateral consequences of criminal convictions for people and families directly impacted by mass incarceration, in addition to participating in a scholarly project challenging the narratives of the history of women’s prison with a group of incarcerated scholars. Even while incarcerated, Michelle published and presented her research findings to dispel notions of about the reach and intellectual capacity of justice-involved women.  Michelle’s advocacy extends beyond the classroom through collaborations and opportunities to speak truth to power. While incarcerated, she presented legislative testimony on a reentry alterative she created for long-term incarcerated people that was approved by the Indiana State Interim Committee on the Criminal Code and has joined the advisory board of the Lumina Foundation.  She is chairwoman of the board of Constructing Our Future, a reentry alterative for women created by incarcerated women in Indiana and a 2017-18 Beyond the Bars fellow, a 2017-18 Research Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, and a 2018-19 Ford Foundation Bearing Witness Fellow with Art for Justice, 2019 SOZE Right of Return Fellow, 2019 Code for America Fellow and 2019-2020 Mural Arts Fellow.  Michelle is currently under contract with The New Press to publish the history of Indiana’s carceral institutions for women with fellow incarcerated and formerly incarcerated scholars.  As an artist, further, Michelle is interested in finding ways to funnel her research pursuits into theater, dance and photography.  Her original co-authored play, “The Duchess of Stringtown,” was produced in December 2017 in Indianapolis and New York City.

 Katie Kramer headshot

Katie Kramer is Co-Founder and CEO of The Bridging Group, a small consulting firm specializing in the effects of incarceration on public health, families, and community reentry. She is an experienced researcher and evaluator with extensive practice in conducting community-based research and evaluation in the fields of correctional health and social service research. She is a skilled technical assistance consultant with expertise in helping community-based organizations, local and state social service and health departments, local and state criminal justice agencies and federal governmental partners to increase their capacity in strategic planning, program and policy development, and evaluation and monitoring. Dr. Kramer is also an experienced senior agency manager with comprehensive knowledge in program oversight, agency policy development, grant writing and staff supervision. She has experience as a clinical social worker providing direct service for clients and clinical supervision for direct-line staff. In addition, Dr. Kramer is the Statewide Director for the California Reentry Council Network and currently serves on the Data and Research Committee for the International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents, on the Steering Committee for the Alameda County Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership, and on the Executive Editorial Board as a Criminal Justice Expert for the Journal of Clinical Research in HIV/AIDS and Prevention. Finally, Dr. Kramer is a professional trainer and curriculum developer with over 20 years’ experience in the creation and facilitation of skills-based trainings and intensive program implementation courses.

 Johnny Perez headshot

Johnny Perez is the Director of the U.S. Prisons Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, an interfaith membership organization comprised of 325 religious organizations working to end U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Through his leadership, Mr. Perez coordinates NRCAT’s existing campaign efforts to end the torture of solitary confinement, adding value and strategic insight to building the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and advocacy across the United States. In addition, Johnny works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system as a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and a member of the NY Advisory Committee to The US Civil Rights Commission. He also sits on the Board of Directors at the Juvenile Law Center, a non-profit public interest law firm advocating for the rights, dignity, equity and opportunity for youth in the child welfare and justice systems. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from St. Francis College of Brooklyn where he mentors formerly incarcerated students.

 Andy Potter headshot

Andy Potter is a 30-year veteran of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and the Executive Director of the Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO), a public-sector union located throughout the State of Michigan. Andy joined the corrections department in 1989 and worked at the Oaks Correctional Facility and the Handlon Michigan Training Unit, where he held several elected chapter positions. He was elected to the MCO State Executive Board in 2004 and became State Vice President in 2005. Over his career, he has held gubernatorial appointments on several task forces including an appointment to the Michigan Corrections Officers Training Council from 2004 – 2013. Since 2015, he has served as MCO’s Executive Director and led the restructuring of MCO’s staff and operations. During his time as Executive Director, he has spearheaded several new initiatives to revolutionize member engagement within the union. In June of 2019, he was appointed as an SEIU International Vice President. He also holds the title of President of the SEIU Michigan State Council. In addition, he is the founder of One Voice, a national campaign that brings corrections officers together with criminal justice reform leaders and other stakeholders to experiment with ways of building bridges and unearthing common ground issues in order to better inform the policies, approach, and narrative of criminal justice reform.

 Rick Raemisch

Rick Raemisch is the former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. He successfully implemented prison reforms in Colorado and except 15 days’ maximum punitive segregation has ended the use of restrictive housing. Rick is recognized as a leader on prison reform and is highly sought after to participate as a subject matter expert on both the national and international level. He has testified on corrections matters before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee involving the over use of segregation, and has participated in numerous forums on corrections at prestigious universities including Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and New York City’s John Jay College. Rick has also assisted and been a member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. meetings in Cape Town and Vienna to re-write prisoner standards, now known as the Mandela Rules. He has authored a number of corrections articles including in the New York Times and has also been profiled by them. Rick was honored as one of the Public Officials of the Year for 2018 by Governing and he also received the 2018 International Corrections and Prisons Association Head of Service Award, both in recognition of the numerous prison reforms implemented in Colorado. He received the nationally distinguished Tom Clements Award by the Association of State Correctional Administrators in 2017, which is awarded annually to a member who displays innovation and achievement as a leader in the corrections profession. Rick has also been awarded the 2016 Sam Cochran Award by the National Alliance on Mental Illness for his work in implementing widespread reforms in the use of solitary confinement in Colorado prisons.

 Nancy Rodriguez headshot

Nancy Rodriguez is professor in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine.  Her research interests include inequality and the collateral consequences of mass incarceration. Throughout her career, Dr. Rodriguez has collaborated with law enforcement, courts, and correctional agencies. She has written two books: Images of Color, Images of Crime (2005, Oxford University Press) and Immigration Enforcement, Youth and Families: Policy in the Absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Dr. Rodriguez was appointed by President Obama as the director of the National Institute of Justice, the scientific research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she served until 2017. She currently serves as a professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. She is a recipient of several awards for her research, including the W.E.B. DuBois Award from the Western Society of Criminology and the Coramae Richey Mann Award from the ASC Division on People of Color and Crime. She received a B.A. from Sam Houston State University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University.

 Topeka K. Sam headshot

Topeka K. Sam is the Founder and Executive Director of The Ladies of Hope Ministries –and co-founder of HOPE HOUSE NYC. She serves on the board of directors for Grassroots Leadership, Coalition for Public Safety and The Marshall Project. Since her release from Federal Prison on May 5th, 2015, Topeka has become a Beyond the Bars 2015 Fellow and a 2016 Justice-In-Education Scholar both from Columbia University, a 2017 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow, a 2018 Unlocked Futures Inaugural Cohort Member, 2018 Opportunity Agenda Communications Institute Fellow, Director of #Dignity Campaign for #cut50, Senior Advisor of New Yorkers United for Justice, Host of “The Topeka K. Sam Show” on SiriusXM UrbanView Channel 126 Sundays 9am EST, and has recently signed a development deal as Executive Producer for a scripted and unscripted series inspired by her fight to change the many problems that plague female incarceration with 44 Blue Productions. Topeka has been featured in Vogue, Essence, SalonTV, Vice, New York Times. She has been featured in Glamour Magazine and BlackEnterprise for being “The Black Woman behind the video that led to the Trump Clemency of Alice Johnson.” She has spoken at the 2018 United States of the Woman Conference, 2018 Women in the World Conference, 2018 White House Prison Reform Summit, is a TedxMidAtlantic Superheros Presenter and has received many awards for her contributions transforming the lives of women and girls impacted by the criminal legal system. 

 Scott Semple headshot

Scott Semple was the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Scott joined the Connecticut Department of Correction as a front line Correction Officer in 1988 at the high security Cheshire Correctional Institution. During his tenure, he has served the agency in numerous administrative capacities, to include pre-service training coordinator, external and legislative affairs, and warden of the state’s only correctional facility dedicated for men requiring comprehensive treatment services for significant mental illness.  As commissioner, Scott has successfully implemented several performances based and progressive correctional practices designed to support both staff and incarcerated people.  Most notable, they include the Emerging Adult Units known as the TRUE Unit (located in Cheshire) and the WORTH Unit (located in Niantic).    He has also repurposed an existing   correctional   facility   and   other   specific   housing   units   for   specialized populations to provide a therapeutic environment designed to support community reintegration. Scott has implemented numerous agency-wide staff wellness initiatives to support, respond and improve policies evolving around the complex and unique needs associated with the health and welfare of correctional professionals and their families. On January 1, 2019, after more than 30-years of service to the agency, Scott retired from public service.    He now provides professional consult through Semple Consulting, LLC on various criminal   justice   and   correctional related endeavors.

 Brie Williams headshot

Brie Williams is a Professor of Medicine in the UCSF Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Director of the Criminal Justice & Health Program at UCSF, and Director of Amend at UCSF: Changing Correctional Culture. Dr. Williams' work focuses on bringing the science of internal medicine, geriatrics and palliative care to address health-oriented challenges in criminal justice reform. She collaborates with colleagues from diverse disciplines (including criminal justice, public safety and the law) to conduct impact-oriented research and education aimed at improving the health of all who live or work in U.S. correctional facilities. Her clinical research has called for improved responses to disability, cognitive impairment, and environmental mismatch among older or seriously ill prisoners; a more scientific development of compassionate release policies; and a broader inclusion of patients who are incarcerated in national health datasets and in clinical research. She has developed new methods for responding to the unique health needs of criminal justice-involved older adults —including an evidence-based approach to reforming compassionate release policies and the design of a new tool to assess physical functioning in older prisoners. Since 2014, Dr. Williams has also directed Amend at UCSF, an international immersion program (primarily in Norway) for criminal justice leaders, policy makers, correctional officers and staff which integrates European principles of normality, dignity and human rights into U.S. prisons and jails. She also served as a member of the Workshop on Incarceration and Health sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences and she is a Board Member for Unlock the Box, a national campaign to end solitary confinement.