Who We Are

better courts | better outcomes

The U.S. criminal justice system consumes $212 billion a year and employs 2.4 million people. Flagging and fixing problems in a system that large requires a network of advisors, experts, and stakeholders. Everyone MFJ has tapped to help in this initiative plays an integral role.

Link to Our Team: Link to the Data Council 

Our Team

Amy Bach

President and Executive Director

Amy Bach founded Measures for Justice in April 2011 as a follow-up to her acclaimed book, Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, which won the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. In June 2011, Echoing Green, a premier seed investor for social entrepreneurs, selected Amy as a Fellow out of 3,000 candidates worldwide to support the launch of Measures for Justice. For her work on Ordinary Injustice, Amy received a Soros Media Fellowship, a special J. Anthony Lukas citation, and a Radcliffe Fellowship. She was a Knight Foundation Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, and she is a graduate of Stanford Law School. This spring she will be teaching criminal law to first year students at SUNY Buffalo Law School as a visiting assistant professor. She lives in Rochester, New York.

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Samantha J. Silver

Director of Operations 

Samantha J. Silver joined Measures for Justice in 2011 and works closely with Amy to help turn her vision and the MFJ mission into a reality.  Samantha provides ongoing organizational and project strategic counsel, project management, and day-to-day operational support.  Prior to joining MFJ, Samantha worked for over ten years with leading public relations agencies, including the global PR firm, Edelman. Her work there included a posting to Shanghai as the Asia Pacific Marketing Manager where she created and implemented business strategies and marketing campaigns to reposition Edelman across eight Asia-Pacific markets. Samantha received an executive MBA from Washington University’s Olin School of Business in Shanghai, China, and a BA in Honors Sociology from McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

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Gipsy Escobar

MFJ Senior Research Fellow; Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University

Dr. Gipsy Escobar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and a faculty member of the Graduate School at Loyola University of Chicago. Dr. Escobar received her Ph.D. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has conducted research on social disorganization, violent and drug crime, collective violence and terrorism in Colombia; the multilevel risk factors for prisoner recidivism in Illinois; the gender differences in disciplinary infractions in prison and school settings in Illinois; the case processing of domestic violence and sex offenses in New York; the effects of school-based gang prevention programs on student attitudes in New Jersey, among other things. Her research interests include the spatial study of social disorganization and crime in urban settings, social capital, violent crime, collective violence, domestic violence, recidivism, crime and justice measurement, quantitative and spatial methods, and evaluation research. She has also provided technical assistance to agencies such as the New York Department of Juvenile Justice, the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and the Center for Court Innovation.

Don Stemen

MFJ Senior Research Fellow; Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University

Don Stemen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to joining Loyola in 2007, he was the Director of Research for Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice. His research explores the innovation and diffusion of sentencing and corrections policies in the United States, the macro-level intersection between sentencing policies and imprisonment, and the micro-level impact of sentencing policies on the use of discretion. He has completed numerous federally-funded and foundation-funded projects examining the effects of sentencing policies on incarceration rates in the United States, the impact of mandatory treatment and probation programs on recidivism, and the decision-making processes of prosecutors.

Christopher Larrabee

Legal Research Assistant, University of Buffalo Law School

Christopher Larrabee is a graduate of McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, NY and the State University of New York at Geneseo with a degree in English Literature.  He is currently earning his Juris Doctor at the University of Buffalo School of Law where he is a member of the UB Trial Team and preparing for a career in litigation.

Kent Cardon

Communications/Legal Assistant, University of Buffalo Law School

Kent Cardon is a 2nd year law student at SUNY Buffalo Law School and a Canisius College Alumni. At Canisius College, he received an Ignatian Scholar award for a co-authored work, titled “The Adaptation of Refugee Children in The Buffalo Public School System”. The paper presented first-hand accounts of multiple refugee families’ experiences with the Buffalo Public School System,as well as, presented shortcomings with current educational policies dealing with refugee children.

 

Data Council

The Data Council comprises measurement experts with diverse expertise in the judicial system (experts on the judiciary, the bench, indigent defense, race in the courts, etc.) whose goal is to help identify appropriate and meaningful indicators of how well or poorly the courts are performing.

Current Data Council members include:

Amy Bach

MFJ President and Executive Director

Amy Bach founded Measures for Justice in April 2011 as a follow-up to her acclaimed book, Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, which won the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. In June 2011, Echoing Green, a premier seed investor for social entrepreneurs, selected Amy as a Fellow out of 3,000 candidates worldwide to support the launch of Measures for Justice. For her work on Ordinary Injustice, Amy received a Soros Media Fellowship, a special J. Anthony Lukas citation, and a Radcliffe Fellowship. She was a Knight Foundation Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, and she is a graduate of Stanford Law School. She is now a visiting professor at Buffalo Law School teaching criminal law. She lives in Rochester, NY.

John Chisholm

District Attorney, Milwaukee County

John Chisholm is the District Attorney of Milwaukee County. His office handles criminal cases for the State of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Prior to being elected as Milwaukee County District Attorney, he was an Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney, responsible for violent crime, drug, and firearm prosecutions. John chairs the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys based in Washington, D.C., and serves on the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Community Justice Council, Safe & Sound, and Milwaukee Addiction Treatment Initiative boards, and is past chair of the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area board.

Derek Coursen

Public Health Solutions, New York

Derek Coursen joined Public Health Solutions in 2007, and currently directs informatics for the administration of New York City’s portfolio of HIV care and prevention contracts. He was previously Director of Information Management at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he co-led projects that developed indicators for New York State’s juvenile justice system and New York City’s child welfare court filings. Derek has published several articles on data modeling in public service settings, and he has a particular focus on information system design in relation to diverse stakeholder purposes around operations, performance measurement and evaluation.

Gipsy Escobar

Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University, Chicago

Dr. Gipsy Escobar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and a faculty member of the Graduate School at Loyola University of Chicago. Dr. Escobar received her Ph.D. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has conducted research on social disorganization, violent and drug crime, collective violence and terrorism in Colombia; the multilevel risk factors for prisoner recidivism in Illinois; the gender differences in disciplinary infractions in prison and school settings in Illinois; the case processing of domestic violence and sex offenses in New York; the effects of school-based gang prevention programs on student attitudes in New Jersey, among other things. Her research interests include the spatial study of social disorganization and crime in urban settings, social capital, violent crime, collective violence, domestic violence, recidivism, crime and justice measurement, quantitative and spatial methods, and evaluation research. She has also provided technical assistance to agencies such as the New York Department of Juvenile Justice, the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and the Center for Court Innovation.

Margaret A. Gressens

North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDF)

Since 2001, Margaret Gressens has been the Research Director for the Office of Indigent Defense Services. From 1996 to 2000, Margaret was a Health Planner for the Municipality of Anchorage, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), where she directed a project that measured the health and quality of life of the municipality. She was Assistant Director of the Real Security Education Project for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., where she co-designed a research and education project on the impact of U.S. foreign policy on the U.S. and the international economy. She has also worked for the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, and for the Office of United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (NY), Washington, D.C.

Ingo Keilitz

National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, VI

Ingo Keilitz is principal court research consultant at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in Williamsburg, Virginia. From 1995 to 2010, he headed CourtMetrics, a management consulting firm specializing in performance measurement and management in the justice sector. Over the last ten years, he has focused on helping justice systems throughout the world build court performance measurement and management systems. Ingo is a major contributor to the development of court performance standards and measures, including: Appellate CourTools (2009), the CourTools (2005), the Trial Court Performance Standards with Commentary (1995), the Trial Courts Performance Standards and Measurement System (1997), the Family Court Performance Standards and Measures (1999), Quality Counts: A Manual of Family Court Performance Measurement (2001), the National Probate Court Standards (1993), the Guidelines for State Court Decision Making in Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment Cases (1992), and the Guidelines for Involuntary Civil Commitment  (1986). He is co-inventor of CourtMetrix, a computer-based court performance dashboard produced by ACS, Inc. His book, Made to Measure: Developing Court Metrics and Building Performance Measurement Systems, is scheduled to be published next year.

Jim Parsons

Vera Institute of Justice, New York

Jim Parsons is the Director of the Substance Use and Mental Health Program at the Vera Institute of Justice and Principal Investigator in Vera’s International Indicators Group. Among other projects, he is currently directing research on the impact of recent reforms to drug law sentencing policies in New York City, developing research-led jail reentry initiatives in New York and Los Angeles, and working with criminal justice and behavioral health agencies in Washington, D.C., to inform the provision of forensic substance use and mental health treatment services. Jim’s international work includes a project for the United Nations to develop and test indicators of justice system performance for use in post-conflict settings, and a long-term initiative to develop and evaluate justice system reform projects in China. Jim has published on empirical research methods for improving justice systems, jail reentry services, the use of indicators to evaluate justice system performance, and public health interventions targeting substance users.

Don Stemen

Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University, Chicago

Don Stemen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to joining Loyola in 2007, he was the Director of Research for Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice. His research explores the innovation and diffusion of sentencing and corrections policies in the United States, the macro-level intersection between sentencing policies and imprisonment, and the micro-level impact of sentencing policies on the use of discretion. He is currently the principal investigator on a National Institute of Justice funded project examining the decision-making processes of prosecutors and the impact of legal and extra-legal factors on prosecutorial outcomes.

Valerie West

John Jay College, New York

Valerie West is an Assistant Professor at John Jay College. Prior to John Jay, Valerie was a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Crime Community & the Law at Columbia University School of Law, and the Center for Violence Research and Prevention at Columbia University School of Public Health. Her research and scholarship have focused on the interaction of crime, inequality, law, and social policy. Valerie has written extensively on the role of race and place in: capital sentencing; the re-adoption of capital punishment; the capital review process; and incarceration. She is currently examining the neighborhood effects of incarceration and race on voting participation (registration and turnout) in New York City between 1990 and 2002. In addition, she is researching the influence of race on clearance rates for capital homicide and capital sentencing. She is also developing a long-term research project on incarceration and community disenfranchisement.