Inimai M. Chettiar
Inimai M. Chettiar is the Director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. The Justice Program seeks to secure our nation’s promise of "equal justice for all" by creating an effective, rational and fair legal system. It proposes and works to enact data-driven policy and legal reforms aimed at two main goals: ending mass incarceration and closing the justice gap for low-income Americans.
Ms. Chettiar focuses on using economics and cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate that helping struggling communities can help the country as a whole achieve economic and social prosperity. She is listed in the national directory as a Top Wonk in criminal justice, economic policy, and race and economics. Her scholarship focuses on viewing policies as investments that lawmakers should evaluate based on what economic and societal benefits they produce. She received this training at NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity, where she led litigation and policy projects using cost-benefit analysis to reform a variety of federal laws.
Most recently, Ms. Chettiar applied these practices to achieve criminal justice reform while at the American Civil Liberties Union. She was one of the lead architects of the organization’s nationwide Initiative to End Overincarceration. She created comprehensive state legislative strategies, authored legislation to reduce prison populations and costs and helped create national and local bipartisan coalitions to successfully enact legislation.
Ms. Chettiar also served as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she led pro bono cases on racial justice and criminal law. She was also a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Lawrence M. McKenna at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Her reform efforts and publications have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, MSNBC.com, NPR, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Guardian, Forbes, and other outlets. She has published extensive scholarship on economic and fiscal policy, criminal law reform, and racial inequalities. In 2011, she was selected by the Center for American Progress as a Leadership Fellow for her groundbreaking leadership on the legal intersection of race and economics.
Ms. Chettiar holds a B.A. cum laude in political science and psychology from Georgetown University and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago School of Law, where she served as Comment Editor of The Law Review. She is a member of the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis and American Correctional Association, and sits on the U.S. Department of Justice Pretrial Justice Task Force and the American Law Institute Model Penal Code Committee, which drafts model criminal codes for enactment in states.
Read the press release on Chettiar joining the Brennan Center.
- How New York Reduced Mass Incarceration: A Model for Change? (author of Foreward), January 30, 2013
- At America’s Expense: Overincarcerating the Elderly, June 13, 2012
- Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A Strategy for Saving Money, January 11, 2012
- Smart Reform is Possible: States Reducing Incarceration Rates and Costs While Protecting Communities, August 9, 2011
- Free to Invest: The Economic Benefits of Preserving Net Neutrality, January 2010
- The Road Ahead: EPA’s Options and Obligations for Regulating Greenhouse Gases, May 11, 2009
- The Price of Neglect: The Hidden Environmental and Public Health Costs of Bad Economics, November 19, 2008
- Contraceptive Coverage Laws: Eliminating Gender Discrimination or Infringing on Religious Liberties, November 6, 2010
Selected Articles & Commentary:
- Justice Department Can Be Smarter About Sequester (with Ethan Nadelmann), The Hill, February 26, 2013
- In the War on Guns, Let's Not Repeat History, The Nation, January 30, 2013
- Time to Incentivize Federal Prison Funding, The Hill, December 11, 2012
- Sunday Dialogue: How We Punish Crime, The New York Times, December 1, 2012
- 2012 Election Commentary, Politico's The Arena
- A Vote for American Ideals, The Huffington Post, November 9, 2012
- Don't Believe the Violent Crime Hype, The Huffington Post, October 29, 2012
- Missing From Tonight's Debate: Candidates' Specifics to Reach Prosperity, CNBC, October 16, 2012
- Education and Incarceration: Beyond "Affirmative Action", The Huffington Post, October 12, 2012
- The Impossibility of Race-Blind Admissions, The Atlantic, October 11, 2012
- Fisher v. Texas is Not About Quotas, It's About the Economy, The Hill, October 10, 2012
- Debate Reality Check: We Can't Cut Our Way to Prosperity, The Huffington Post, October 4, 2012
- Criminal Justice Reform is a National Economic Issue, The Hill, September 20, 2012
- Fisher v. Texas Symposium:The limits of an Aristotelian constitutional jurisprudence, SCOTUSBlog, September 12, 2012
- Debtors' Prison Makes the Poor Poorer, The Huffington Post, September 5, 2012
- Black Defendants More Likely To Be Imprisoned Than White Defendants, ThinkProgress, August 30, 2012
- Fees, Fines, and Debt: Governments and Companies are Jailing Poor People to Make a Buck, ThinkProgress, August 22, 2012
- New York's Innovative Solution to Crime: Betting on Success, The Huffington Post, August 21,2012
- What’s Ahead for California’s Prison Crisis?, The Huffington Post, July 30, 2012
- Keeping Low-Risk Elderly Prisoners Behind Bars is a Budget Buster, Center for American Progress, June 13, 2012
- Blame Mass Incarceration On Sentencing Policies, not Mass Crime, American Civil Liberties Union, June 6, 2012
- Why Mass Incarceration Really is The New Jim Crow, The Huffington Post, February 24, 2012
- Criminal Justice Reform Can Help With State Fiscal Woes, Center for American Progress, January 11, 2012
- It’s Not Just Prosecutorial Leverage That’s Eroding Our Justice System, American Constitution Society, September 27, 2011
- Just What Is So Wrong with the War on Drugs?, American Constitution Society, June 14, 2011
- Plata is a Net Benefit to Public Safety and Our Constitutional Rights, American Constitution Society, May 24, 2011
- States' Brilliant Budget Solution: Sacrifice Public Education to Spend More on Ineffective Prisons, The Daily Kos, March 4, 2011
Legal Briefs & Testimony:
- Comments to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on Economic Impact of Criminal Records, January 17, 2013
- Letter to Office of Management and Budget Urging Rational Approach to Budgeting for Criminal Justice, December 20, 2012
- Michigan v. Bailey, Michigan Court of Appeals, September 17, 2012
- Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, U.S. Supreme Court, August 13, 2012
- Can We as a Nation Really Scrap Affirmative Action Policies?, Thom Hartmann Show, October 9, 2012
- College Admissions Must Consider Race, Black Agenda Report Radio, October 8, 2012
- Shadow 2012: Drug War, HuffPost Live, August 29, 2012
- PublicationsJanuary 30, 2013
- December 20, 2012Analysis