The Right on Crime Team

Derek M. Cohen, Ph.D. is Director of Right on Crime at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Cohen graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University. He went on to complete an M.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, where he also recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the long-term costs and outcomes associated with correctional programming. His academic work can be found in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, the Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology, and The Oxford Handbook on Police and Policing, and has scholarly articles currently under review. He has presented several papers to the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the American Evaluation Association on the implementation and outcomes of various criminal justice policy issues.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Cohen was a research associate with the University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Crime Science. He also taught classes in statistics, research methods, criminal procedure, and corrections.

Caroline Espinosa is Campaign Director of Right on Crime at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Prior to coming to Right on Crime, she served at the U.S. Department of State on the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff. Espinosa was previously at the Texas Public Policy Foundation as its Director of Communications. Additionally, Espinosa was the Deputy Director of Communications at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and Communications Director at the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (AMCHAM Thailand). Espinosa also spent nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, where she worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, House Press Gallery, and as press secretary for a U.S. Senator. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from George Washington University and her Master of Science in Management from Excelsior College.

John Koufos is the National Director of Reentry Initiatives at Right on Crime and the Executive Director of Safe Streets & Second Chances.

John has been widely recognized for his professional advocacy and was previously certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a criminal trial attorney. He has tried complex jury trials to verdict and received numerous professional achievement awards and accolades.

John’s reentry work has been recognized by President Donald J. Trump, and he works with the public and private sector to build partnerships designed to lead to better employment outcomes and safer communities. John’s work began in New Jersey, where he helped the Christie Administration and five former Governors implement effective, evidence-based reentry services. John designed New Jersey’s nationally recognized legal program, combining staff lawyers with approximately 70 pro bono lawyers to help the reentry community clear old tickets and warrants and restore driver’s licenses that lead to jobs. John’s lived experience on all sides of the criminal justice system makes him a credible spokesperson. His leadership in the business community was recognized in 2016 when NJBIZ named him one of New Jersey’s “Top 40 Under 40.” He is a regular speaker on criminal justice, healthcare and workforce development, and helps cities, states, and the federal government to optimize reentry systems.

Julie Warren is the Director of State Initiatives and State Director for Tennessee.

Julie is a graduate of Marshall University and of Regent University School of Law. She also attended Georgetown Law Center as a visiting student. While in law school, she clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Julie served four years at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. After a few years in private practice as a civil defense litigator, Julie returned to public service and began her work in the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General where she primarily served as an appellate advocate for the State of West Virginia and as legislative counsel to the Attorney General.

Brett L. Tolman isDirector of Prosecutorial Innovation for Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime project, and a former U.S. Attorney.

Kurt Altman is the State Director of Arizona and New Mexico.

Kurt became a signatory for Right on Crime in early 2016 and recently more fully joined the reform movement, promoting Right on Crime’s policies in the State Houses of Arizona and New Mexico. He has nearly 24 years of criminal law and Constitutional litigation experience. As a former Deputy Maricopa County Attorney and Assistant United States Attorney, Kurt has conducted literally hundreds of felony jury trials and lead investigations of criminal conduct ranging from homicide and capital cases to complex white-collar matters. Formerly, as a member of the Department of Justice, Kurt earned the Director’s Award, the highest honor bestowed upon Department of Justice lawyers, and has twice received the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director’s Award for his tireless efforts on behalf of FBI-conducted investigations. Since 2008 he has operated his own practice defending the accused in criminal matters of all varieties also ranging from homicide to white collar.

Scott Peyton is the Louisiana state director for Right on Crime. He has over 12 years of work experience with the State of Louisiana: first as a child welfare specialist, then as a juvenile probation and parole officer. Prior to joining Right on Crime, he worked in adult probation and parole as a specialist supervising violent offender caseloads. Peyton has spent time as both a volunteer and reserve deputy sheriff, as well as providing as-needed support to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center working as a correctional officer. As a former instructor with Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, he taught at the Probation and Parole Police Academy. Peyton has witnessed firsthand the need for criminal justice reform, the impacts of rehabilitation and re-entry programs, and the inner workings of the Louisiana Probation and Parole system.

Peyton graduated from Louisiana State University at Shreveport with a Master’s in nonprofit administration and from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a BS in criminal justice. Peyton served in the Louisiana National Guard before being honorably discharged. He is an ordained deacon in the Catholic church and resides in Louisiana with his wife and six children.

Chelsea Murphy is the State Director of Florida.

Chelsea has been immersed in Florida politics for the past decade and advocated on behalf of various clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, non-profits, to local governments. More specifically to justice reform, she represented the largest and oldest private provider for re-entry programming in the state of Florida. She helped start two smart justice coalitions, and she’s represented a variety of mental and behavioral health stakeholders.

Chelsea is based in Tallahassee where she lives with her husband and two children.

Aubrey Vaughan Travis is the State Director of Kentucky.

Aubrey is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. While in law school, she served as President of the Federalist Society and clerked for now Congressman James Comer, current Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, and RANDPAC. Following graduation, she worked in a senior fundraising role on Senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, and then worked in Senator Paul’s Senate office as his General Counsel in the 114th and 115th Congresses. She moved back to Kentucky in 2018, where she served as an executive advisor in Governor Matt Bevin’s administration until his term ended.

She resides in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and their Labrador retriever.

Marilyn Davidson is the State Director for Oklahoma.

She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with her B.A. in Public Relations, where she currently serves on their alumni board, and Oklahoma City University with her Master’s in Business Administration. While a student at the University of Central Oklahoma Marilyn accepted a job at the Oklahoma House of Representatives, then moved into an internship in the Lt. Governor’s office. This jump-started a more than 17-year career working in politics in Oklahoma.

Marilyn Davidson also serves as President of Davidson Consulting, a public affairs and lobbying firm headquartered in Oklahoma City.

Her unique background has taken her from working at the local level with private companies in a variety of fields, to the state legislature, to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., and the U.S. Supreme Court. Early in her career, she did fundraising and executed grassroots strategies for political campaigns. It was this experience that ignited her passion for the community and her desire to work in the advocacy field.

She has served as Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association, where she was responsible for the organization’s media outreach, grassroots strategy development, volunteer recruitment and management, and government affairs operations. She also worked in the public affairs division of Saxum, a communications firm, which afforded her the ability to work in many different industries and with a variety of individuals. From 2014-2018, she worked on criminal justice reform and other corrections issues with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as their legislative liaison.

Marilyn lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and son, along with their two rescue dogs. She is an avid reader, a sports lover, and enjoys searching antique stores for treasures.

Former Texas House Committee on Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden is a Senior Fellow at the Right on Crime campaign.

Rep. Madden is best known, along with Senator John Whitmire, as the driving force behind the successful and much-copied 2007 Texas criminal justice reforms. (For their work, Governing Magazine named them Public Officials of the Year in 2010.) Madden graduated from West Point with a BS in Engineering, obtained a Master of Science in Management and Administration Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1979, and has since been honored as one of their distinguished graduates. After being elected to the Texas Legislature in November of 1992, he served ten terms. While there, Rep. Madden was Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections from 2005-2009 and again from 2011-2012. In 2011, the American Legislative Exchange Council honored Rep. Madden as their Legislator of the Year. He chaired ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force from January 2011 through April of 2012, and serves as well on the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit. He and his family have lived in Richardson, Texas since 1971.

Craig DeRoche is a senior fellow with Right on Crime.

DeRoche serves as the Senior Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy, Prison Fellowship. He is the former Speaker of the House in Michigan. DeRoche is a frequent contributor to the growing national discussion on criminal justice reform, addiction and recovery. DeRoche is in long-term recovery for his own addictions and is the author of the memoir “Highly Functional: A Collision of Addiction, Justice & Grace.”

Under DeRoche’s leadership, Prison Fellowship’s advocacy has developed a group of federal and state elected officials known as the Faith & Justice Fellowship to advocate for values-based justice reform. This group includes United States Senators, Congressmen, state legislators and a Governor. DeRoche is the co-author of Prison Fellowship’s small group study guide and trade book titled “Outrageous Justice” that is being distributed throughout American churches. DeRoche serves as an Advisory Board Member to the Vera Institute for their “Reimagining Prison” project. He is a former member of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Prison Reform created by Congress.

DeRoche is a frequent author and contributor to news, media and opinion pieces. DeRoche has his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Central Michigan University.

Working closely with Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation is Patrick J. Nolan, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Project at the American Conservative Union Foundation.

He is a former California Assemblyman and the author of When Prisoners Return. Nolan understands the inside of a prison well, having served 29 months in federal custody after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering. He earned a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Southern California.

Iveta Stefancova is a Policy Analyst with Right on Crime. Prior to joining Right on Crime, Iveta worked at Management Systems International assisting home and field staff with safety and security matters and providing crisis management and logistical support. She also worked in research at American University and conducted investigative, security, and legal research at TD International. In addition to her research background, Iveta has also experience in higher education, specifically working with international students both at Plymouth State University and Harvard University. Iveta can speak Slovak, Czech, Russian, and Spanish and has limited proficiency in French and Turkish. Iveta cares about security and justice and she is bringing her international perspective and diverse experience to address different policy issues and advance the goals of Right on Crime. Iveta received her Master’s degree in Global Governance, Policy, and Security from American University and Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Plymouth State University. During her studies, her research often focused on a variety of policy areas including criminal justice challenges.

Lacey White is the Project Manager for Right on Crime. Lacey comes to Right on Crime and the S3C Project from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). During her time at ALEC, Lacey served in a few roles including directing the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force, managing the policy department, and coordinating events for the organization. Before ALEC, she worked at the Leadership Institute as a Career Services Intern and later as a Programs Assistant. Lacey’s first introduction to Washington, D.C. was a Government Relations and Advocacy internship with International Justice Mission during her last semester of college in spring of 2015. She is a West Virginia native, but attended Liberty University, where she studied Government: Politics & Policy and Philosophy, and has lived in Virginia ever since. Lacey became active in politics as well as in her community while at college, where she had the opportunity to volunteer on a few political campaigns as well as help lead a student-run, community outreach ministry called Campus Serve, where she worked with young, low-income mothers and their families. In her free time, Lacey enjoys reading, trying new coffee shops, and attending concerts.

-Kurt M. Altman, PLC, is a former state and federal prosecutor and Alison Holcomb is director of the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice.

Originally posted on the Right on Crime website.