Hanna Dershowitz joined Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections in June 2016 and is focused on Vera’s initiative to reduce the use of jail incarceration and craft models for local reform. Earlier, Hanna served as the Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Advocate at the ACLU of Southern California, where she was a local expert on California’s Public Safety Realignment law and reentry policies and conducted legislative advocacy for reduction of drug possession penalties. In 2010, she co-chaired the Legal Subcommittee of the Proposition 19 campaign to tax and regulate marijuana.
Hanna previously served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis, spearheading landmark indigent defense reform legislation, a ban on execution of persons with mental retardation, post-conviction DNA testing procedures, and more. She later joined Texas Appleseed, a non-profit public interest law center, as its Legal Director to spearhead implementation of these reforms and spur additional system improvements. Dershowitz has taught legislation and statutory interpretation at the University of Houston Law Center, and has been a frequent speaker on indigent defense reform, drug policy, and other criminal law issues. She also has worked for the Innocence Project, helping the New York-based pioneering organization initiate innocence-related reforms in Texas.
Hanna received her J.D. with honors from Brooklyn Law School, where she served as notes and comments editor of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College. Hanna is active in the New York City Bar Association, serving on the Drugs and the Law Committee and the Mass Incarceration Task Force.