Ashley Nellis

Senior Research Analyst, The Sentencing Project

Areas of Expertise

  • Sentences for juveniles
  • Juvenile justice
  • Life-without-parole
  • Life sentences

Key Findings

  • In the article, “The Lives of Juvenile Lifers: Findings from a National Survey,” Nellis looks into the history of juvenile life sentences. MORE
  • In the book, “A Return to Justice: Rethinking our Approach to Juveniles in the System,” Nellis discusses how the practices of the juvenile justice system differ from the adult system . . . MORE
  • In the study, “Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Imprisonment in the United States,” Nellis and her coauthors examined the trends in the population of prisoners serving life . . . MORE


Ashley Nellis, Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project, is an expert in life sentences, life-without-parole sentences and incarceration.

Nellis focuses on extreme sentencing policies in the justice system and their consequences on prisoners, families of incarcerated people and American society. She has conducted a series of national investigations into the use of life sentences for adults and produced law review pieces, book chapters and journal articles on the topic. Her work closely tracks youth justice, the role of race and the use of life sentences for juveniles (JLWOP). In 2012, she published results from a national survey of inmates serving such sentences.

She is the author of A Return to Justice: Rethinking our Approach to Juveniles in the System, and her findings from research on lifers has been widely cited.

Follow Ashley on Twitter: @love_justice

Nellis received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from American University’s School of Public Affairs and B.A. in Criminal Justice from St. Edward’s University.

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