Lisel Petis

Lisel Petis

Resident Senior Fellow, Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties

About Lisel

As a resident senior fellow specializing in criminal justice and civil liberties, Lisel Petis actively identifies, formulates and disseminates innovative solutions aimed at influencing policy decisions that ultimately reduce recidivism rates, advance equity and uphold individual liberties.

Prior to joining R Street, Lisel served as executive director of Better Tomorrow, an organization dedicated to supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. During her tenure, she established the first Child Advocacy Center in her community to provide forensic interviews and exams to victims of child abuse and actively participated on the policy committees of Violence Free Colorado and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Additionally, she has received distinguished appointments from the Governor of Colorado to the 14th Judicial Performance Commission and from the 14th Judicial District Chief Judge to a committee focused on pretrial services.

Before Better Tomorrow, Lisel practiced law, bringing her expertise to both criminal and civil cases. She spent several years as a prosecutor, handling a diverse range of cases from attempted murder to robbery. Her civil legal acumen led her to argue a matter of first impression before both the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court. Her commitment to the community resulted in a five-year tenure on the Steamboat Springs City Council, where she played a pivotal role in advocating for the implementation of a co-responder program within the local police department.

In her work with R Street, Lisel has made significant contributions to the criminal justice reform movement through policy studies like “Conservative Jurisdictions Champion Diversion Efforts”; a six-part blog series titled “Reform Efforts and Rise in Crime”; op-eds published in outlets including The Southern Illinoisian, Nevada Current and The Lima News; and participation as an expert in the National League of Cities’ Mayoral Convenings on Community Safety and Violence Prevention, the Salzburg Global Seminar’s Whole System Approach to Justice, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Leadership Institute and other events. She has also appeared as an expert on several news outlets including Fox 31 Colorado.

Lisel holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado and a JD from the University of Denver. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with her husband, Geoff, and daughter, Penelope.

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Commentary from Lisel

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