More than 15 years as an effective policy advocate working with particular emphasis on America’s criminal justice system and promoting a broader framework of public safety. My approach employs collaborative advocacy to organize and mobilize diverse coalitions and individuals to lobby legislatures and other targets. I have worked in several states including Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina and Oklahoma. My expertise includes state sentencing policy, social policy development and negotiation, earned media, organizing grassroots support, drafting written materials, generating electronic and social media, and facilitating relationships with elected officials at the federal, state and local level.
My professional interests include advocacy strategies, policy development, and coalition building and mobilization.
I've been lucky to be a part of a few fantastic teams working to address mass incarceration and other areas of policy to re-imagine the social contract.
Nicole D. Porter's resume.
Publications by Nicole D. Porter
"Private prisons don’t save money, don’t make us safer" (2017)
Commentary published in Newsday that addresses for-profit prisons and mass incarceration.
"State Advances in Criminal Justice Reform, 2016"
This briefing paper highlights progressive state sentencing reforms adopted in 2016.
"Repurposing: New Beginnings for Closed Prisons" (2016)
This briefing paper updates the analysis on state prison closures and highlights reuse projects for closed state prisons.
"Expanding Public Safety in the Era of Black Lives Matter" (2016)
This essay was published in Volume 70, Issue 2 of the University of Miami Law Review and discusses the framework of Black Lives Matter can reimagine public safety responses in an effort to challenge mass incarceration.
"Delaware can lead the way on sentencing reform" (2016)
Nicole co-authored op-ed commentary in the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal, which supported reform of the state’s “three strikes” laws.
"Unfinished Project of Civil Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration and the Movement for Black Lives" (2016)
This article was published in the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy and discusses the collateral impacts of justice involvement on communities of color and how current social movements are challenging mass incarceration.
"State of Sentencing: Developments in Policy and Practice" (2009 - 2015)
Nicole has authored the State of Sentencing series for The Sentencing Project since 2009. The publications document progressive changes in policy and practice in state sentencing. During 2013, legislators in at least 31 states adopted 47 criminal justice policies that may help to reduce the prison population, improve juvenile justice outcomes, and eliminate the barriers that marginalize persons with prior convictions. Links to the reports can be found here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
"Reforming Sentencing Laws" (2015)
This essay was included in VICE Magazine's Prison Issue (October 2015) on "How to Repair the Criminal Justice System". The essay focused on reforming sentencing laws as a strategy to address mass incarceration. Three solutions are highlighted: 1) Learning from California, New Jersey, and New York, we must continue scaling back lengthy prison terms, even for more serious crimes. The 21-year-old former gang member convicted of robbery may be a very different person at age 30. 2) Prioritizing initiatives like the Nurse Family Partnership, a visitation program that has shown that home visits can significantly reduce arrest rates for children and their mothers; and 3) Focusing resources to strengthen effective remedies in high-incarceration communities. Evidence shows that counseling offered to at-risk youth can greatly reduce future entanglements with the law.
"Treating Violence as an Infectious Disease" (2015)
Co-authored with Karen Volker of Cure Violence, this essay for Governing offers solutions to local officials working to address recent increases in violence. While the piece is focused on Washington, DC the approach is relevant to other jurisdictions too.
"Ruling Against "Three Strikes" Sentencing Law Opens Door to Reform" (2015)
This article for Truthout.com provides an overview of the 2015 Supreme Court decision on Johnson v. United States and highlights how complicated sentencing structures contribute to mass incarceration. The court's decision only impacts persons sentenced at the federal level. However, the essay discusses similar state provisions and suggests that state advocates organizing around remedies for mass incarceration should consider these sentencing provisions too.
"Politics of Black Lives Matter: Broadening Public Safety Priorities Beyond Arrests and Prisons" (2015)
This essay, was part of the "Black Future Month" series produced by The Huffington Post and Black Lives Matter for Black History Month 2015. The essay works to broaden the concept of public safety beyond law enforcement contact and incarceration. Solutions include prioritizing other remedies like the Nurse Family Partnership program and community-level approaches that reduce criminal justice contact. The essay can be found here.
"State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment" (2015)
Nicole authored this briefing paper which documents successful advocacy strategies employed in campaigns in Indiana, Missouri, and Texas.
In these states, advocates achieved the following reforms: 1) reduced 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; 2) modified Missouri’s federal lifetime ban on food stamp benefits for persons with felony drug convictions; and 3) closed two Texas prison facilities: the Dawson State Jail and the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility. The briefing paper can be found here.
"Statement of Principles: Reform Sentencing and Parole Practices for Serious Offenses" (2014)
These principles reflect a shared analysis of activists working towards remedies for persons sentenced for serious offenses. The full document can be found here.
"Leveraging the Moment: Resources for High Incarceration Communities" (2014)
This essay, published in the Liman Report on Isolation and Reintegration: Punishment Circa 2014 by Yale Law School highlights recent changes in criminal justice policy and practice. The essay adds to the discussion by advocating for resources to build infrastructure in high incarceration communities. Recommendations include: 1) targeting investment in effective interventions proven to reduce crime in high incarceration communities; 2) reversing the course of the drug war by shifting to a model of prevention that relies more on the public health system than the criminal justice system; 3) and finally, scaling back the length of prison terms across the board, even for more serious crimes. The 21-year-old former gang member convicted of robbery may be a very different person at age 40. The full essay can be found here.
"On the Chopping Block: State Prison Closures" (20011 - 2013)
Since 2011, at least 17 states have reduced prison capacity totaling over 35,000 beds. In a series of publications, Nicole has worked to document these changes in state prison capacity and contribute to the narrative involving re-purposing prisons and strengthening communities. Nicole also published a state-specific report documenting the possibility of closing Texas prisons during the 2013 legislative cycle (see here). Links to these reports can be found here: 2011, 2012, 2013.
"Ending Mass Incarceration: Social Interventions that Work" (2013)
This short paper worked to synthesize interventions that reduce contact with the criminal justice system. It is widely accepted that the growth in the nation's prison system has been a result of policy choices. As a result, this briefing paper documents different policy choices that lawmakers and stakeholders could make. Find the briefing paper here.
"Cracked Justice" (2011)
Nicole was the principal author of this policy report that documented state sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine. The report was published following the 2010 adoption of the federal Fair Sentencing Act and specifically documents when certain states imposed their own sentencing disparities. Today, thirteen states including Arizona and Oklahoma treat penalties for crack and powder cocaine differently. Following the publication of this report, several states including Missouri and California, worked to address their sentencing disparities. Find the report here.
"Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform 1997-2010" (2010)
Nicole authored this update of The Sentencing Project's research that documents changes in state felony disenfranchisement policy. The report found that the escalation in attention to felony disenfranchisement policies translated into substantial state-level reform. This report provides an overview of reforms that have taken place since 1997 and determined that since 1997, 23 states amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to expand voter eligibility. Find the report here.
"Texas: Tougher than Ever, But are We Safer" (2007)
This paper, written for the ACLU of Texas, builds off of an analysis authored by the Justice Policy Institute. The paper documents the growth in the Texas prison population from the early 1980s until 2005 and analyzes how changes in parole policy and the incarceration of persons convicted of certain offenses contributed to the state's prison growth. Find the paper here.
"Encouraging Microenterprise as a Workforce Development Strategy for African American Ex-Offenders" (2005)
Nicole D. Porter's master's thesis, Encouraging Microenterprise as a Workforce Development Strategy for African American Ex-Offenders" examines the viability of microenterprise as a workforce development strategy for formerly incarcerated African Americans. The inability of formerly incarcerated African Americans to obtain legitimate, living-wage employment in the formal economy is one of the most significant public policy concerns of our time. This report recommends self-employment as an approach for formerly incarcerated African Americans who have low-wage employment as a strategy for participation in the U.S. labor market. The research conducted includes an analysis of the conditions that have contributed to the disproportionate representation of African Americans in the nation’s growing prison population. Find the paper here.
Kansas City materials: Dean statement and Fair Housing Information document.