Jesse Kelley was responsible for overseeing R Street Institute’s criminal justice legislative strategy and policy implementation efforts across the United States at both the federal and state level. She advocated, researched and wrote for the Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy team. Jesse worked with lawmakers to draft and pass effective legislation relating to policing reform, juvenile justice, reintegration, post-conviction life and other related topics. Additionally, she managed R Street’s state policy portfolios in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jesse previously served as legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). 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, Jesse worked as a criminal defense attorney in Alabama. 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 JD from the University of Mississippi, with a concentration in international law from Cambridge University.

Jesse lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Alex Piper, and their Pembroke Welsh corgi, Cooper.