PJIL is led by Michele Deitch, Director, and Alycia Welch, Associate Director, who have been in the arena working on criminal justice reform initiatives for a combined 55 years, impacting policy, practice, and public perception to expand correctional oversight and improve the treatment of people in custody.
J.D., M.Sc., Distinguished Senior LecturerLBJ School of Public Affairs, UT School of LawPJIL Director
An attorney and national thought leader with more than 35 years of experience working on criminal justice and juvenile justice policy issues with state and local government officials, corrections administrators, judges, and advocates, Michele holds a joint appointment as a distinguished senior lecturer at the LBJ School and UT School of Law. Her areas of specialty include independent oversight of correctional institutions, prison and jail safety issues, the management of youth in custody, and juveniles in the adult criminal justice system. Before entering academia, she served as a federal court-appointed monitor of conditions in the Texas prison system, as General Counsel to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, as policy director for Texas’s sentencing commission, and as a consultant to justice system agencies around the country. She has won numerous teaching awards, including being named to the 2019 Texas Ten List of the most inspiring professors at the University of Texas at Austin; has been a Soros Senior Justice Fellow; and is the recipient of the 2019 Flame Award for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) for her significant contributions to corrections oversight. She holds degrees from Amherst College, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School.
M.P.Aff., M.S.S.W.PJIL Associate Director
Alycia’s research focuses on the safe and humane treatment of people in custody, with a particular focus on women and individuals living with behavioral health challenges. She has nearly 20 years of experience managing multipartner projects reforming the justice and behavioral health systems. She directed a transitional housing program for women exiting prison or jail, developed an alternative to incarceration program for young adults, oversaw a multistate, federally funded initiative providing training and technical assistance on behavioral health and criminal justice issues, and designed multiple studies assessing the impact of community-based programs on those who are justice-involved. The recipient of several national policy research awards, Alycia served as policy analyst for two members of the Texas House of Representatives and has authored numerous reports for state and local government officials, corrections administrators, and advocates that have been selected for inclusion in several publications and featured in major national news outlets. Alycia is a proud alum of the LBJ School, where she received her Master of Public Affairs while simultaneously earning her Master of Science in Social Work at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan.
M.A.Research Analyst/Project Manager
Ana is a research analyst and project manager at PJIL. She works on several PJIL initiatives, including managing the Louisiana Jail Standards project and supporting the development of the National Resource Center for Correctional Oversight. Prior to joining PJIL, Ana worked at the Board of Correction, a civilian oversight body that monitors and regulates conditions of confinement in New York City jails. At the Board, Ana designed monitoring and evaluation systems to assess the Department of Correction’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, use of restrictive housing units, and young adult housing strategy. Before becoming an oversight practitioner, Ana worked as a program manager at the Armed Services Arts Partnership, a non- profit organization that provides free art and comedy classes to veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University.
PJIL’s team of enthusiastic and talented graduate student assistants have a strong background in and commitment to criminal justice policy reform. Graduate student assistants participate in collaborative research and help advance PJIL’s project portfolio.
Brandon is a first year MPAff student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs with an interest in state and local policy. He received his B.A. in Government from UT Austin in 2021. Before coming to LBJ, Brandon worked as the Legislative Director to Representative Jasmine Crockett where he advocated for state legislation to reduce incarceration and support reentry, and maintained correspondence with people in custody, helping to connect them to services and highlighting their conditions. At PJIL, Brandon is excited to support our mission of improving conditions of confinement by maintaining the website.
Crystal is a first year MPAff major at The LBJ School with a B.A. in Psychology from St. Edward’s University. Before coming to The LBJ School, Crystal worked in the racial equity consulting space. She is passionate about social justice with an emphasis on equity and transparency within the criminal justice system. As a GRA for PJIL, she will be analyzing data on serious incident reporting in jails across Texas. In 2020, she helped to co-author the Racial Inequities and Institutional Racism report for the City of Austin Equity Office and the Austin Police Department.
John is a first-year student at the LBJ School studying for a Master’s in Public Affairs. After graduating from Swansea University, Wales in 2019, John worked operationally in the criminal justice arena as a clerk to Judges in the UK on a variety of cases, ranging from murder trials, drug trafficking, and historical sexual abuse cases. While involved in the court system, John was exposed to the conditions of defendants and the experiences of prison staff across the UK, which shone a spotlight on the issues faced in prisons across the country. As an international student at the LBJ School, John is continuing to learn about correctional facilities in the United States and will be focusing his efforts on providing meaningful research to highlight cases of oversight across Texas and the US. At PJIL, John will work on an array of topics including the National Resource Center for Correctional Oversight which will provide an inventory of prison oversight structures across the 50 states.
Ashley is a first-year MPAff student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Prior to graduate school, she worked at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office as a client advocate. In this role, she provided case management services and advocated for clients’ release from jail. Ashley graduated from Rice University in 2020; as an undergraduate, she worked with the Texas Center for Justice and Equity to study bail reform in Harris County. At PJIL, she conducts research and produces written materials for the National Resource Center for Correctional Oversight.
Sabrina is a second-year MPAff student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2019, where she did research related to juvenile justice and Washington state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. Prior to graduate school, she worked in legal operations as a Client Program Specialist at Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP and volunteered with University Beyond Bars through monthly prison book clubs. At PJIL, Sabrina will support the overall operational and organizational needs of the lab.
Tyler is a second-year JD student at the UT School of Law. Prior to law school, he worked as a High School teacher. He spent the past summer at the Public Defender Service of D.C. While there, he advocated on behalf of people incarcerated in the D.C. Jail, assisted in correspondence with people incarcerated in federal prisons across the country, and helped clients overcome barriers to reentry. He has also worked with the Law School’s pro bono programs including the Expunction Project and the Texas Jail Voting Rights Project. At PJIL, Tyler conducts research and produces written materials on state laws governing conditions of confinement at correctional facilities around the country.
Former PJIL team members go on to do great things across the country.
PJIL appreciates the generous support of Arnold Ventures and our donors.