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La Vigne, Ryan Named to Head Key Justice Department Anticrime Units

The Biden administration named Nancy La Vigne director of the National Institute of Justice and Liz Ryan to head the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. La Vigne has been working at the think tank Council on Criminal Justice as director of the Task Force on Policing. She previously was vice president of Justice Policy at the Urban Institute. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon said La Vigne "has dedicated her enormous talent to bridging the divide between researchers, practitioners and policymakers, helping justice system professionals apply science and data to our nation’s most pressing public safety challenges." At the Urban Institute, she led a staff of more than 50 researchers and managed a $10 million budget. She also headed a crime mapping research center at NIJ. La Vigne takes over from Jennifer Scherer, who has served as NIJ’s acting director since January 2021.


Ryan joins OJJDP from the Youth First Initiative, a national campaign to end youth incarceration which she founded and served as president and CEO. Solomon called Ryan "an impassioned advocate for America’s youth and a visionary whose actions have benefitted our nation’s young people in countless ways,." At Youth First, she led a multi-state effort to shift resources from incarceration to community-based services. The initiative led to the closure of youth prisons in a half dozen states and redirection of more than $50 million to non-incarceration alternatives. Prior to founding Youth First, she was founder, president and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice, which focused on ending the prosecution of youth in adult criminal court and the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. Her efforts helped lead to legal and policy changes in more than 40 states and Washington, D.C., an 80 percent reduction in the number of youth in adult courts and a 75 percent decrease in youth placed in adult jails and prisons. From 2000 to 2005, Ryan was advocacy director for the Youth Law Center, where she staffed an initiative to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.

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