Jesse Kelley is responsible for overseeing R Street’s criminal justice efforts across the United States at both the federal and state level. In  addition, she manages R Street’s state policy portfolios for Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. She supports R Street’s criminal justice experts by working with lawmakers to implement effective public policies related to juvenile justice, post-conviction life and other related topics.

Jesse previously served as legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project. At MPP, she led the development and implementation of state advocacy initiatives and saw decriminalization and legalization successes across the country. Earlier in her career, she worked as a criminal defense attorney in Alabama, where she represented mostly indigent clients. She also worked with the Mississippi Innocence Project on post-conviction issues, specifically investigating cases where convictions relied heavily on forensic evidence.

Jesse has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Troy University and a juris doctor from the University of Mississippi, with a concentration in international law from Cambridge University.

Jesse lives in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé, Alex Piper, and Cooper, her nine-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi.


Click here to download a high-resolution headshot of Jesse.