Staff & Volunteers
The Prison Policy Initiative's accomplishments are those of a much larger organization. In fact, until November 2009, all of our work was done by our part-time Executive Director and the part-time volunteers he coordinated. Thanks to your support, we've added staff and our capacity to help make social change is growing quickly. Learn more about our current and past staff.
Peter Wagner, JD, Executive Director. Peter Wagner teaches, lectures, and writes about the negative impact of mass incarceration in the United States. His current focus is on demonstrating — through graphics, legal research, and state-by-state analyses — how the U.S. Census Bureau's practice of counting the nation's mostly urban prisoners as residents of the often remote communities in which they are incarcerated distorts the democratic process. The New York Times editorial board has written 21 editorials supporting his efforts to change the way prisoners are counted, and the Boston Globe identified him as the "leading public critic" of the prisoner miscount. He has presented his research at national and international conferences and meetings, including a Census Bureau Symposium, a meeting of the National Academies, and keynote addresses at Harvard and Brown Universities and the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron Missouri. Mr. Wagner's publications include Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York (2002); The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (2003); and Breaking the Census: Redistricting in an Era of Mass Incarceration (2012).
Aleks Kajstura, JD, Legal Director. Aleks began her career with the Prison Policy Initiative in 2003 helping to digitize criminal justice reports, and soon thereafter was editing our research database. She helped develop our Prisoners of the Census project and prepare evidence for the Southern Center for Human Rights' Whitaker v. Perdue case. Aleks led our school zone project and was lead author of the report, The Geography of Punishment: How Huge Sentencing Enhancement Zones Harm Communities, Fail to Protect Children. After graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in May 2008, Aleks assumed the position of President of the Prison Policy Initiative Board of Directors. After a clerkship at the Connecticut Superior Court, she joined the Prison Policy Initiative full-time, as our legal director, in November 2009. In her spare time, Aleks skates with Pioneer Valley Roller Derby and serves as the Clerk of the Finance Committee for the Town of Sunderland.
Leah Sakala, Policy Analyst, has been working with the Prison Policy Initiative since 2008. She authored Return to Sender: Postcard-only Mail Policies in Jail and she co-authored Reaching too far, coming up short: How large sentencing enhancement zones miss the mark and Please Deposit All of Your Money: Kickbacks, Rates, and Hidden Fees in the Jail Phone Industry. She is also the editor of our research database. One of her specialties at the Prison Policy Initiative is branding and messaging, and she coined the slogan for the campaign against prison-based gerrymandering: "No Representation Without Population." Her work can be found on car bumpers and on the title of a law passed in Maryland. She graduated magna cum laude from Smith College in 2011, and her honors thesis, Doing Time is Money: The Economic Crisis, Criminal Justice Ideology, and Sentencing Reform in Michigan, won the prize for best thesis in American Studies and American History.
Sadie Gold-Shapiro will be a second year student at Smith College. She helps out as a work-study Research Associate one afternoon per week. Her recent projects have included cross-checking our annotations of correctional facilities in the 2010 Census and researching CenturyLinks's call termination practices for our Please Deposit All of Your Money: Kickbacks, Rates and Hidden Fees in the Jail Phone Industry report.
Bill Cooper helps us access and analyze geographic and demographic data.
Jordan Miner develops the code behind some of our interactive features and internal tools. He made our map of sentencing enhancement zones in Hampden County Massachusetts interactive, upgraded our Prisoners of the Census FAQ, and a lot of clever little features that help various parts of our websites talk to each other. Jordan lives in Illinois.