Nazgol Ghandnoosh Headshot

Nazgol Ghandnoosh

Co-Director of Research, The Sentencing Project

About Nazgol

Ghandnoosh conducts and synthesizes research on criminal justice policies, with a focus on racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts. She regularly presents to academic, practitioner, and general audiences and her work has been featured in outlets including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and WNYC’s On the Media. Ghandnoosh earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

In the News

Quoted by Damini Sharma and Weihua Li in "US Prison Populations Down 8% Amid Coronavirus Outbreak," The Independent Record, July 16, 2020.
Quoted by Lison Knezevich in "Maryland Plans a Coed Training Center for Inmates Heading Home, but Women’s Advocates Say it’s not Enough," Capital Gazette Online, January 28, 2020.
Research discussed by Alan Neuhauser, in "DOJ Touts 10-Year Drop in Incarceration Rates," US News and World Report, April 25, 2019.
Research discussed by Ben Henry, in "Part 2: One Month Out," NHPR, February 22, 2019.
Opinion: "Stiffening Immigration Enforcement is not the Answer to Reducing Crime," Nazgol Ghandnoosh (with Alex Nowrasteh), The Hill, April 7, 2017.
Opinion: "Maryland Should Make Parole a Meaningful Part of Sentencing Again," Nazgol Ghandnoosh, The Washington Post, February 13, 2017.
Quoted by Amy McKeever in "Eastern State Penitentiary and the Critique of Mass Incarceration," Pacific Standard, July 19, 2016.
Opinion: "Becoming Smart on Crime," Nazgol Ghandnoosh, The News-Gazette, April 26, 2015.
Opinion: "Life, with a Possibility of Blocked Parole," Nazgol Ghandnoosh, San Francisco Daily Journal, September 25, 2014.
Guest on Arise America: Female Prison Population, August 6, 2014.
Quoted by Renee Lewis in "Holder: Data-Driven Sentencing ‘Unfair’’ to Minorities," Al Jazeera America, August 1, 2014.
Quoted by Gilman Halsted in "Is It True That State Prisons are Filled with Nonviolent Drug Offenders?," Wisconsin Public Radio, July 7, 2014.
Opinion: "Can We Wait 88 Years to End Mass Incarceration?," Nazgol Ghandnoosh (with Marc Mauer), Huffington Post, December 20, 2013.


"A Second Look at Injustice," The Sentencing Project, 2021, May 12, 2021.

Examines the evidence supporting second look reforms and presents in-depth accounts of three reform efforts that can be models for the nation: California's Assembly Bill 2942 (2018), allowing district attorneys to initiate resentencings, DC’s Second Look Amendment Act (2020), allowing those who committed crimes as emerging adults to petition for resentencing after 15 years of imprisonment, and New York State’s Elder Parole bill, which would allow people aged 55 and older who have served over 15 years in prison to receive a parole hearing.

"Can We Wait 60 Years to Cut the Prison Population in Half?," The Sentencing Project, January 22, 2021.

Reveals significant variation across states in decarceration and highlights the overall modest pace of reforms relative to the massive imprisonment buildup. Following a nearly 700% increase between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. prison population declined 11% in the subsequent 10 years. At this rate of decline it will take 57 years — until 2078 — to cut the prison population in half.

"Decarceration and Community Re-Entry in the COVID-19 Era," (with Carlos Franco-Paredes, Hassan Latif, Martin Krsak, Andres F Henao-Martinez , Megan Robins, Lilian Vargas Barahona, and Eric M Poeschla), September 29, 2020.

Argues that since U.S. jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers are exceptionally susceptible to viral outbreaks such as SARS-CoV-2, substantial decarceration should be initiated, particularly for people older than 55 years who are especially at risk of severe COVID-19 and often pose little public safety risk.

"Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System," The Sentencing Project, February 2015.

Highlights initiatives in more than 20 states designed to address the four causes of racially unequal outcomes in the criminal justice system.

"Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies," The Sentencing Project, September 2014.

Synthesizes two decades of research revealing that white Americans’ strong association of crime with African Americans and Latinos is related to their greater support for punitive policies.

"Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States," (with Marc Mauer), The Sentencing Project, July 2014.

Profiles the experiences of three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – that have reduced their prison populations by about 25% in the past decade while seeing their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average.