/ Wednesday Apr 21,2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Collaborative Reform: Bridging the Gap Between Advocates and Agencies through Evidence-Informed Policymaking


Government agencies and advocacy groups often share goals but lack a mechanism to work together to make change. Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) has recently tried a new approach in Illinois, enlisting the help of the NYU Marron Institute’s Litmus team to collaborate with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to understand why a 2018 bill to reform sentence credits failed to have the intended impact. NYU and IDOC used the department’s data to inform process and policy updates, enabling IDOC to greatly increase eligibility for sentence credits for people in prison and incentivize participation in programming, treatment, and prosocial activities. Through new legislation, ASJ provided support for IDOC’s changes and for further expanding sentence-credit availability. Join us for a conversation with IDOC Acting Director Rob Jeffreys, ASJ Director of Innovations John Maki, Marron Institute Director Angela Hawken, and others to discuss this process and how it can enable collaborative reforms in other jurisdictions.


Rob Jeffreys
Acting Director / Illinois Department of Corrections

Rob Jeffreys serves as Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Jeffreys is a nationally recognized criminal justice expert with correctional experience spanning more than two decades. He spent 21 of his 24 years in corrections management at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC). Jeffreys currently serves as the agency’s chief of staff and directs its Information Technology and Strategic Initiatives bureaus as well as the Office of Human Resources that supports more than 12,000 employees. Previously as ODRC’s Regional Director, he managed the operations of eight adult prisons and the Adult Parole Authority across 20 counties, oversaw 25,000 offenders and 3700 staff and managed an annual budget of $340 million. As Bureau Chief of Classification and Reception at ODRC, Jeffreys provided population management for over 50,000 offenders based on trends, research, and data analysis variables. From 2007 to 2010, he was sent on a special assignment under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) as a National Prison Security Program Coordinator with the National Institute of Corrections in Washington, D.C., developing programs and assessments for over 26 federal and state agencies in the areas of security operations, security audit training, staffing analysis, emergency preparedness, prison management, and technical assistance. He also served as Warden for correctional institutions in Chillicothe and Marion, Deputy Warden in Toledo and in various positions at ODRC’s St. Clairsville facility. He began his career as a corrections class specialist in ODRC’s Bureau of Research. Jeffreys received both his Master of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

John Maki
Director of Innovations / Alliance for Safety and Justice

John Maki is the Director of Innovations at the Alliance for Safety and Justice. In that role, John partners with government leaders, elected officials, non-profit organizations and communities to develop effective implementation strategies for the policy reforms ASJ drives in states across the country. He also leads the development of ASJ’s federal policy agenda.  Prior to joining ASJ, he served as Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), which houses public safety research grant-making for the state. At ICJIA John’s work touched almost all aspects of Illinois’ public safety system. The organization helped shape broad changes in victim services, sentencing and state and local criminal justice during his tenure. Earlier in his career, John ran the John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA), the only non-partisan prison watchdog in the state. Under his leadership JHA drove significant legislative and policy reform, and John helped shape public opinion with commentary that appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, NPR and many other national, state and local media outlets. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recognized JHA under John’s leadership as a key contributor to the field of justice reform. 

Angela Hawken
Director / Marron Institute
Program Director / Litmus
Professor of Public Policy

Angela Hawken, Ph.D., is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. She is the founding director of NYU’s BetaGov, which supports innovation-and-testing for social good. Her team of research and practice scholars, along with a growing cadre of NYU graduate students, works closely with state and local agencies, schools, and nonprofits across 32 states and six countries in developing and testing practices, policies, and new technologies. She is dedicated to partnering with “pracademics” on rapid-cycle innovation and experimentation, empowering practitioners and the people they serve with a central role so that research is performed with them. She directs a community-supervision resource center for the US Department of Justice and the NYU Opioid Collaborative, which works with justice agencies in six states on designing, implementing, and testing responses to the opioid crisis. Most recently, her team is helping prosecutors to harness their own data for equitable decisionmaking, through analysis and decision-support tools. And it works with corrections, parole, and social-service agencies to help returning citizens succeed by supporting a graduated reintegration, which entails an early release from prison into stable housing and supportive services in the community. Prior to joining NYU, she was a Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, a Research Economist at UCLA, and an Associate Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. For the US Department of State, she trained mid-career civil servants in Georgia on policy analysis, and for UNDP, she developed cross-country measurement instruments on corruption and gender inequality for Human Development Reports. In Afghanistan, she had a central role in developing a corruption-monitoring system, also for UNDP. She has a B.S. and an Honours degree in Economics from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the RAND Graduate School.

James Pagano
Policy Advisor for Reform Initiatives / Illinois Department of Corrections

James Pagano is the Policy Advisor for Reform Initiatives at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). He helps to coordinate, organize, and implement IDOC’s reform efforts. In his role at IDOC, he has also led the development and management of a strategic-planning and performance-monitoring framework and regularly leads efforts to revise and update a wide array of policies. Prior to joining IDOC, he served as an Innovation Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Performance Lab, where he helped to develop a strategy to improve the employment outcomes of people who completed IDOC’s career and technical-education courses. He is a graduate of the MPP program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he focused on analytical methods, election reform, and good government. Prior to earning his MPP, James worked as a program officer with Democracy International, where he helped to manage and support election and good governance programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mr. Pagano holds a B.A. in political science and international studies from Dickinson College.

Sandy Felkey Mullins
Senior Research Scholar / Litmus

Sandy Felkey Mullins, J.D., is a Senior Research Scholar in the Litmus program at NYU’s Marron Institute where she assists public safety-related agencies and organizations serving people who have been involved with the criminal justice system in collaboratively designing and implementing reforms. Prior to joining NYU, she served as Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s senior policy advisor on public safety and government operations, advising on and creating policy on a wide range of issues including criminal and juvenile justice, policing, marijuana legalization, firearm-fatality prevention, emergency management, and cybersecurity. Prior to that, she served as director of the Washington State Department of Corrections Office of Executive Policy, where she led the development and implementation of evidence-informed reforms. She previously served as executive director of the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission and Sex Offender Policy Board. Prior to her work in Washington, she was executive director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. Ms. Mullins has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a J.D., both from the University of Colorado.

Janelle Prueter
Research Scholar / Litmus

With decades of clinical and leadership experience, Janelle Prueter has been instrumental in designing and implementing programs that help individuals transition from government systems to health and self-sufficiency in the community.

As vice president of operations for TASC in Illinois (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), Janelle directed TASC’s statewide assessment, treatment, and independent case management services for people with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders who are involved in criminal justice, juvenile justice, or child welfare systems.

Prior to being named vice president, she led TASC’s Corrections & Community Reentry division for nine years, managing services for more than 6,000 adults and youth annually who were incarcerated or returning to their communities following incarceration. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and community-based service providers across the state, Janelle played a key role in shaping community reentry programs that help individuals successfully reintegrate into society. Under Janelle’s leadership, TASC’s reentry case management services significantly increased treatment outcomes and reduced recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals.

Also while at TASC, Janelle co-developed and implemented TASC’s Family Recovery and Reunification Program, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which works with parents whose substance use disorders resulted in loss of child custody. The Recovery Coach Program increased parents’ success in treatment and family reunification rates, saving the state more than $6 million in its first ten years.

She earned her BA in Psychology and Sociology from Beloit College (Beloit, Wisconsin), and her MS in public services administration from DePaul University (Chicago).