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Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D.
Senior Research Analyst

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., conducts and synthesizes research on criminal justice policies. She has written about racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts. In The Lancet Infectious Diseases, she explained why people serving long sentences for violent crimes should be included in COVID-era decarceration efforts. Her latest report, “A Second Look at Injustice,” is a comprehensive analysis of a growing, powerful tool to curb mass incarceration: second look policies that enable extreme sentences to be re-evaluated. She regularly presents to academic, practitioner, and general audiences and her work has been featured in outlets including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and WNYC’s On the Media. She also edits The Sentencing Project’s Race and Justice Newsletter. 

Dr. Ghandnoosh earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation, “Challenging Mass Incarceration: A California Group’s Advocacy for the Parole Release of Term-to-Life Prisoners,” was an in-depth study of a South Los Angeles-based group challenging severe sentences.

Written By Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D.
November 03, 2021

Testimony in support of Washington, DC's Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021

Passage of the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021 would go far in aligning D.C.’s criminal penalties with criminological evidence on how to advance public safety.
May 12, 2021

A Second Look at Injustice

Ending mass incarceration and tackling its racial disparities require taking a second look at long sentences.
January 22, 2021

Can We Wait 60 Years to Cut the Prison Population in Half?

Following a nearly 700% increase between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. prison population declined 11% in the subsequent 10 years. At this rate of decline it will take 57 years — until 2078 — to cut the prison population in half
May 19, 2020

U.S. Prison Decline: Insufficient to Undo Mass Incarceration

Although 44 states and the federal system have reduced their prison populations since reaching peak levels, the pace of reform has been slow to reverse nearly four decades of aggressive imprisonment growth that now exacerbates health risks during a pandemic.
September 17, 2019

U.S. Prison Population Trends: Massive Buildup and Modest Decline

While most states have downsized their prison populations in recent years, the pace of decarceration is insufficient to undo nearly four decades of unrelenting growth.
April 02, 2019

The Next Step: Ending Excessive Punishment for Violent Crimes

The Next Step highlights 15 reforms in 19 states implemented over the past two decades that have produced more effective, fiscally sound, and humane policies for people convicted of violent crimes.  
March 08, 2018

Can We Wait 75 Years to Cut the Prison Population in Half?

Expediting the end of mass incarceration will require accelerating the end of the Drug War and scaling back sentences for serious crimes.
June 14, 2017

Federal Prisons at a Crossroads

Recently enacted policy changes at the Department of Justice and certain Congressional proposals may jeopardize federal sentencing progress.
January 31, 2017

Delaying a Second Chance: The Declining Prospects for Parole on Life Sentences

Nationally, over the past three decades many legislators, governors, and parole boards have toughened lifer parole policies and practices—effectively increasing prison terms for the more than 110,000 individuals serving parole-eligible life sentences.
February 16, 2016

U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014: Broad Variation Among States in Recent Years

In the last fifteen years, incarceration trends have varied widely throughout the United States. Some states have seen prison populations have peak and decline slightly, while they continue to grow in other states.
April 09, 2015

U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2013: Broad Variation Among States in Recent Years

While the number of people in prison in the United States has stabilized in recent years, incarceration trends among the states have varied significantly.
February 03, 2015

Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

Like an avalanche, racial disparity grows cumulatively as people traverse the criminal justice system. This report identifies four key features of the criminal justice system that produce racially unequal outcomes and showcases initiatives to abate these sources of inequity in adult and juvenile justice systems around the country.
September 03, 2014

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies

Coming on the heels of the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, this report demonstrates that the consequences of white Americans’ strong association of crime with blacks and Latinos extend far beyond policing.

July 23, 2014

Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States

Three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – have reduced their prison populations by about 25% while seeing their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average.