News Release

Jody Kent Lavy Receives Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award from Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (Aug. 6, 2019) – On Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, Jody Kent Lavy—Executive Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY)—was presented with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award at NACDL's 18th Annual State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) conference in Philadelphia, PA. The award recognizes an individual or group whose tremendous efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system.

Under Kent Lavy’s leadership, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth serves as a national leader in criminal justice reform and provides strategic guidance on communications, including litigation and advocacy to attorneys, advocates, directly impacted individuals, and others working at the state and federal levels to end life without parole and other extreme sentences for children.The CFSY also advances alternative responses to extreme sentences and works to creates opportunities for formerly incarcerated youth to thrive as adults and lead in their communities. In her role as executive director, Kent Lavy leads the engagement of a broad coalition of national organizations opposed to the use of harsh sentencing laws. 

With the help of her team at the CFSY, Kent Lavy has advocated tirelessly for those directly impacted by this issue, harnessing the energy of a growing number of policy makers, editorial boards, and public opinion leaders. The CFSY has successfully passed legislation across the country banning life without parole sentences from being used on children. In the span of just a few years, they quadrupled the number of states that ban these harsh sentences. Today, 22 states and the District of Columbia have moved to ban juvenile life without parole. Another 5 states have nobody serving the sentence.

“Hundreds of individuals who were sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as children have been given a second chance at life as a result of Jody’s advocacy in support of fair sentencing for juvenile defendants,” said Monica Reid, NACDL’s Director of Advocacy. “NACDL is honored to present the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award to Jody Kent Lavy for her recognition of the importance of providing second chances to those who are most vulnerable and for making real change possible thanks to her nationwide efforts toward ending extreme sentencing of juvenile defendants.”

Michael Iacopino, chair of NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Committee, said: “For too long, the collateral consequences of conviction have negatively impacted juveniles in this country. In her role as Executive Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Jody is leading the charge in juvenile sentencing reform. Her efforts have resulted in legislative victories in numerous states and her dedication to progressive reform is a testament to the spirit of NACDL’s Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award.”

After graduating from Boston College, Kent Lavy spent a year in Los Angeles at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps working with low-income and homeless members of the community. After her service, she worked for the ACLU of Southern California, where she spent three years monitoring conditions of LA County jails. Before joining CSFY, she served as Public Policy Coordinator at the National Prison Project of the ACLU in Washington, DC. Furthermore, Kent Lavy was instrumental in coordinating the national advocacy campaign leading up to and following two U.S Supreme Court rulings that limit the use of life without parole for children: Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016).

To learn more about the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award and to view past recipients, please follow this link

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Ian Nawalinski, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7624 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.