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President Biden Taps Nationally Renowned Criminal Justice Researcher Nancy La Vigne to Lead National Institute of Justice
WASHINGTON – Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon announced today that President Biden has appointed Dr. Nancy La Vigne of Bethesda, Maryland, Director of OJP’s National Institute of Justice. La Vigne, whose appointment takes effect May 9, joins NIJ from the Council on Criminal Justice, where she served as a senior fellow and directed the Council’s Task Force on Policing.
“Throughout her distinguished career, Nancy 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,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “Her grasp of the complex issues behind America’s crime and justice problems is second to none, and we will be fortunate to rely on her remarkable ability to translate knowledge to practice in the service of safer communities and a more just and equitable society.”
La Vigne is a nationally recognized criminal justice policy expert and nonprofit executive whose expertise ranges from policing and corrections reform to reentry, criminal justice technologies and evidence-based criminal justice practices. Prior to joining the Council on Criminal Justice, she served as vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit social policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. Over the course of a decade, she directed Urban’s Justice Policy Center, leading a staff of more than 50 researchers and managing an annual departmental budget of about $10 million. From 2014 to 2016, she also served as executive director of the congressionally-mandated bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform.
Before being appointed as director of the Justice Policy Center in 2009, La Vigne served for eight years as a senior research associate at Urban, leading groundbreaking research on prison reentry. Prior to joining Urban, she was the founding director of the Crime Mapping Research Center at NIJ and was special assistant to OJP’s Assistant Attorney General. She previously served as research director for the Texas sentencing commission. She was also recently a director on the board of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, served on the board of the Pretrial Justice Institute, was a member of the research advisory committee of the Correctional Association of New York and finished a term of service on the Policy Committee of the American Society of Criminology.
“I am honored to serve the country’s lead science agency dedicated to promoting safety and justice for our nation’s communities,” said La Vigne. I look forward to joining NIJ’s exceptional team of professionals to build knowledge on criminal justice technologies, programs and practices that are both effective and equitable.”
La Vigne holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, a master’s degree in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas-Austin and a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from Smith College.
As head of NIJ, she will lead the Justice Department’s research, development and evaluation agency, overseeing a wide array of social science research projects, technology initiatives and forensic activities focused on improving public safety and ensuring the fairness and effectiveness of the justice system.
La Vigne takes over the leadership post from Dr. Jennifer Scherer, who has served as NIJ’s acting director since January 2021 and will resume her role as the office’s principal deputy director.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.