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Nicole D. Porter
Director of Advocacy

Nicole D. Porter manages The Sentencing Project’s state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Her advocacy has supported criminal justice reforms in several states including Kentucky, Missouri, and California. Porter was named a "New Civil Rights Leader" by Essence Magazine in November 2014 for her work to eliminate mass incarceration.

Since joining The Sentencing Project in 2009, Porter's work has been cited in several major media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. She has given a number of talks on state sentencing policy, collateral consequences, and racial disparity to various audiences including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the United Methodist Women's Assembly.

Porter is the former director of the Texas ACLU’s Prison & Jail Accountability Project (PJAP). PJAP’s mission was to monitor the conditions of confinement in state jails and prisons. Porter advocated in the Texas legislature to promote felony enfranchisement reforms, to eliminate prison rape, and improve prison medical care. Porter received her undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin. Her master’s thesis addressed exploring self employment among formerly incarcerated African Americans. She also studied African Politics at the University of Ghana, West Africa.

Written By Nicole D. Porter
publications
May 13, 2016

Expanding Public Safety in the Era of Black Lives Matter

The narrative of “Black Lives Matter” offers a new framework for policymakers, activists, practitioners, and other stakeholders to think about a public safety strategy that is not solely defined by arrests and admissions to prison. This essay in the University of Miami Law Review provides an overview of evidence-based approaches for public safety interventions that exist outside of law enforcement interactions.
publications
April 05, 2016

Unfinished Project of Civil Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration and The Movement for Black Lives

In this article published in the current issue of The Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy Nicole D. Porter, The Sentencing Project's Director of Advocacy, discusses the collateral impacts of justice involvement on communities of color and how current social movements are challenging mass incarceration.
publications
February 10, 2016

The State of Sentencing 2015: Developments in Policy and Practice

In recent years the issue of mass incarceration has gained broader attention among diverse constituencies. Over the last decade the political environment shaping sentencing laws has evolved to being “smart on crime” to counter the “tough on crime” framework of a previous era.
publications
February 24, 2015

State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment

This publication documents successful advocacy strategies employed in campaigns in Indiana, Missouri, and Texas. Victories including reducing enhanced penalties in drug-free zones in Indiana by shrinking the limit of zones from 1,000 feet to 500 feet, and eliminating all zones except those around schools and parks; modifying Missouri’s federal lifetime ban on food stamp benefits for persons with felony drug convictions; and closing two Texas prison facilities: the Dawson State Jail and the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility.
publications
February 19, 2015

Letter in Support of Maryland Senate Bill to Eliminate the Requirement of the Governor’s Approval of Parole Recommendations

The Sentencing Project welcomes the introduction of bills HB 303 and SB 111 in Maryland. The bills eliminate the requirement of the governor’s approval of parole recommendations for life-sentenced prisoners made by the Maryland Parole Commission (MPC) or the Patuxent Board of Review (PBR). Maryland is one of only a few states that impose such a requirement.
publications
February 17, 2015

Letter in Support of Maryland House Bill to Eliminate the Requirement of the Governor’s Approval of Parole Recommendations

The Sentencing Project welcomes the introduction of bills HB 303 and SB 111 in Maryland. The bills eliminate the requirement of the governor’s approval of parole recommendations for life-sentenced prisoners made by the Maryland Parole Commission (MPC) or the Patuxent Board of Review (PBR). Maryland is one of only a few states that impose such a requirement.
publications
January 26, 2015

Letter in Support of Virginia House Bill to Modify Felony Drug Ban on Cash Assistance

The Sentencing Project applauds the introduction of House Bill 1569 in Virginia, which would allow certain persons with felony drug convictions to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance, promoting their stability and rehabilitation.  
publications
December 01, 2014

Racial Impact Statements

Racial impact statements are a tool for lawmakers to evaluate potential disparities of proposed legislation prior to adoption and implementation. Analogous to fiscal impact statements, they assist legislators in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications.
publications
February 01, 2014

The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice

During 2014, legislators in at least 30 states and the District of Columbia authorized a range of law changes and policies that may address the nation’s scale of incarceration.
publications
January 29, 2014

The State of Sentencing 2013: Developments in Policy and Practice

This report highlights reforms in 31 states in both the adult and juvenile justice systems.
publications
January 29, 2014

On the Chopping Block 2013: State Prison Closures

This briefing paper documents state prison closures and attributes the trend to declining state prison populations, fiscal constraints, and sentencing and parole reforms.
publications
December 20, 2013

Drug-Free Zone Laws: An Overview of State Policies

Nicole D. Porter and Tyler Clemons
This briefing paper provides an overview of state legislative reforms designed to scale back the inappropriate extension of drug-free zone policies.
publications
October 14, 2013

Ending Mass Incarceration: Social Interventions That Work

This policy brief discusses various interventions in early childhood education, juvenile justice, and community investment that have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing crime.
publications
February 21, 2013

Dawson State Jail: The Case for Closure

Closing the Texas jail offers an opening to adopt strategies that emphasize opportunity instead of punishment as a guiding theme in public safety.
publications
January 28, 2013

The State of Sentencing 2012: Developments in Policy and Practice

This report highlights reforms in 24 states that demonstrate a continued trend to reform sentencing policies and scale back the use of imprisonment without compromising public safety.
publications
December 07, 2012

On the Chopping Block 2012: State Prison Closures

There is a growing trend among states to downsize or close their prisons, reducing prison capacity in 2012 by 14,100 beds, and 28,000 since 2011.
publications
January 26, 2012

The State of Sentencing 2011: Developments in Policy and Practice

During 2011, state legislatures in at least 29 states adopted 55 criminal justice policies that may contribute to continued population reductions and address the collateral consequences associated with felony convictions.
publications
December 01, 2011

Oklahoma Sentencing and Punishment: Two Decades of Rising Imprisonment

Oklahoma has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of persons in prison over the last two decades. Since 1989, the total number of persons in prison in Oklahoma has more than doubled, increasing by 127% from 11,608 to 26,397 in 2009.
publications
August 03, 2011

On the Chopping Block 2011: State Prison Closings

In 2011, at least thirteen states have closed prison institutions or are considering doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 15,500 beds and reversing a 40-year trend of prison expansion.
publications
March 24, 2011

Cracked Justice

Valerie Wright, Ph.D. and Nicole D. Porter
This report addresses disparities in cocaine sentencing in 13 states and documents efforts at the federal and state level to correct these injustices.
publications
February 17, 2011

The State of Sentencing 2010: Developments in Policy and Practice

During 2010, state legislatures in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia adopted criminal justice policies that may contribute to reductions in the prison population and eliminate barriers to reentry while promoting effective approaches to public safety.
publications
October 11, 2010

Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2010

Since 1997, 23 states have amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to reduce their restrictiveness and expand voter eligibility.
publications
March 03, 2010

The State of Sentencing 2009: Developments in Policy and Practice

During 2009, state legislatures in at least 19 states enacted policies that hold the potential to reduce prison populations and/or promote more effective approaches to public safety.