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News Release

Jessica Brown Named Director of the Center for Justice Reform at VLGS

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


Former Public Defender Moves Forward Efforts to Address Justice System Inequities

Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) has named Jessica Brown as the new director of its Center for Justice Reform.

The Center for Justice Reform at Vermont Law and Graduate School exists to transform the ways communities engage with each other, respond to harm and pursue justice. In her new capacity as director, Brown will lead efforts to address deficiencies in our justice systems and to train the next generation of justice leaders. She will also oversee the statewide, regional, national and international educational and training center for justice reform efforts including restorative justice.

Brown's appointment marks an exciting chapter in Vermont Law and Graduate School's ongoing mission to effectuate a more inclusive and just society.

In June, the school announced a $975,000 federal grant secured by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the Center for Justice Reform’s new legal clinic, which merges immigration assistance work and broader justice reform to reduce recidivism, address mass incarceration and improve community-based restorative alternatives at all intercept points, from pre-charge to post-conviction, across the state.

Brown joined the school in July 2021 as a professor and later associate director of the Center for Justice Reform, following a 24-year career as a public defender in New Hampshire and Vermont, where she navigated both state and federal criminal legal systems.

She is passionate about addressing the impact of wealth and race disparities in the criminal and juvenile legal systems, moving away from law enforcement and punishment responses toward restorative and transformative responses to harm, and providing the resources to address issues of health, wellness and stability to make communities safer.

Outside of her work with the Center for Justice Reform, Brown is actively involved in the state’s Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel and is the deputy Title IX coordinator for the VLGS community.

“We are delighted to name professor Jessica Brown as the director of the Center for Justice Reform,” Rod Smolla, president of Vermont Law and Graduate School said. “Her unique blend of academic expertise and real-world experience will undoubtedly drive meaningful change at the Center for Justice Reform, within the legal system and beyond.”


About Vermont Law and Graduate School: Vermont Law and Graduate School, a private, independent institution, is home to a law school that offers ABA-accredited residential and online hybrid JD programs and a graduate school that offers master’s degrees and certificates in multiple disciplines, including programs offered by the Maverick Lloyd School for the Environment, the Center for Justice Reform and other graduate-level programs emphasizing the intersection of environmental justice, social justice and public policy. Both the law and graduate schools strongly feature experiential clinical and field work learning. For more information, visit vermontlaw.eduFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.